Optimal search patterns in honeybee orientation flights are robust against emerging infectious diseases

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Wolf, S., Nicholls, E., Reynolds, A. M., Wells, P. M., Lim, K. S., Paxton, R. J. and Osborne, J. L. 2016. Optimal search patterns in honeybee orientation flights are robust against emerging infectious diseases. Scientific Reports. 6, p. 32612. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32612

AuthorsWolf, S., Nicholls, E., Reynolds, A. M., Wells, P. M., Lim, K. S., Paxton, R. J. and Osborne, J. L.
Abstract

Lévy flights are scale-free (fractal) search patterns found in a wide range of animals. They can be an advantageous strategy promoting high encounter rates with rare cues that may indicate prey items, mating partners or navigational landmarks. The robustness of this behavioural strategy to ubiquitous threats to animal performance, such as pathogens, remains poorly understood. Using honeybees radar-tracked during their orientation flights in a novel landscape, we assess for the first time how two emerging infectious diseases (Nosema sp. and the Varroa-associated Deformed wing virus (DWV)) affect bees’ behavioural performance and search strategy. Nosema infection, unlike DWV, affected the spatial scale of orientation flights, causing significantly shorter and more compact flights. However, in stark contrast to disease-dependent temporal fractals, we find the same prevalence of optimal Lévy flight characteristics (μ ≈ 2) in both healthy and infected bees. We discuss the ecological and evolutionary implications of these surprising insights, arguing that Lévy search patterns are an emergent property of fundamental characteristics of neuronal and sensory components of the decision-making process, making them robust against diverse physiological effects of pathogen infection and possibly other stressors.

Year of Publication2016
JournalScientific Reports
Journal citation6, p. 32612
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32612
PubMed ID27615605
PubMed Central IDPMC5018844
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Wellcome Trust
Natural Environment Research Council
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Scottish Government
Funder project or codeImpact and mitigation of emergent diseases on major UK insect pollinators [2011-2014]
Impact and mitigation of emergent diseases on major UK insect pollinators [2012-2014]
Movement and spatial ecology in agricultural landscapes
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online12 Sep 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted05 Aug 2016
Copyright licenseCC BY
PublisherNature Publishing Group
ISSN2045-2322

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