Know about the capabilities of others can be in situations of conflict, as we know, is crucial. Humans and many other vertebrate species capture therefore be attentive to the characteristics and benefits of potential rivals. The information can then be used in the evaluation of whether it makes sense, with an opponent to create. Signs of weakness in favour of a decision for an attack. A rival seems, however, to consider, to avoid a conflict, often to no unnecessary risk. What appears clear is that This assessment of others, and the appropriate behavior of the adaptation is based on complex cognitive performance.

Previously this ability was only of representatives of the highly developed existing Vertebrates known. However, the rather simple force insect might be able to do that? Studies of recent years have shown more clearly that some species of insects to amazing cognitive performance. Among other things, have proven the hornet’s head: In a previous study, the researchers working with Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor were able to show that paper wasps (

Polistes fuscatus

) can recognize conspecifics on variations of their facial drawing. In their current study they are, therefore, now the question of whether the insects also have the ability to individual performance assessment of their conspecifics in the case of conflicts.

paper wasps in the Arena

As the researchers explain, show paper wasps have a special behavior that enabled the experiments. In contrast to honey bees, in which there is only one Queen and many of the peer workers, have paper wasps peoples of several reproductive females, compete with each other. These animals fight against rivals and form linear dominance hierarchies based on the results of these struggles. The rank of a wasp in the hierarchy determines their role in the reproduction and allocation of food.

In their experiments, the researchers placed each of the two competing wasps in a kind of battle arena – a container with transparent walls. At the time of their examination, they were observed from the outside of the two spectator-wasps. The fights were recorded on Video, and then by one of the researchers evaluated. He pointed to each opponent on the basis of an index points to assess the outcome of the dispute.

Ultimately, the decisive factor is the observation of dominance behavior, in which the victorious wasp drums its antennae on the losing was that while these ducks and their sensor lowers. Next, the researchers let the viewers wasps either against one of the wasps to compete, which they had observed, or as a control against an individual you don’t know. Then Tibbetts and her colleagues evaluated again with the video recordings of the conflict of the experimental animals behavior.

observations to shape conflict behaviour

It showed: When the viewers wasps with a defendant were confronted, the who had previously suffered in the Arena, a defeat that they were particularly aggressive. Winners were attacked significantly less, it is clear from the behavior analysis. This means: “The wasps observing other individuals battle, and you use the information about the output then, in order to modulate their subsequent behavior. The results document that social observations on P. fuscatus wasps have a lasting effect,” says Tibbetts.

The study is a part of the growing evidence that the tiny brains of insects can be surprisingly complex performances, say the scientists. “It is believed that complex social relations favour the Evolution of large brains and increased social intelligence – but the paper wasps’ brains are relatively small,“ says Tibbetts. Accordingly, the ability could arise to complex behavior apparently also by the social environment, and is not linked necessarily to the size of the brain, the scientists write in conclusion.

source: University of Michigan, specialist artiekel: Current Biology, doi: 10.1016/j. cub.2020.05.053

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