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Environmental diversity constrains learning in Drosophila melanogaster [Ecological Entomology]

Keywords : biodiversity, Drosophila, flower constancy, learning, mixed crop, proactive interference

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

1. Much is known about how enriched environmental diversity affects ability to learn across the months and years that are the developmental periods of large animals.
2. Less is known about how diversity impacts learning across the minutes and hours during which sensory environments of small foraging animals such as insects may vary dramatically.
3. This study shows that Drosophila melanogaster exposed to a diversity of odour–taste associations over a few minutes subsequently learn standard associative learning tasks poorly.
4. This effect is robust to variation in odours used in all parts of experiments.
5. Findings may have an impact on at least three major research areas in ecology : the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning ; the evolution of floral constancy in pollinators ; and the pest-protective effects of mixed species crops.

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