Researchers assessed the effect of traffic-related diesel air pollution on honeybee odour learning and memory.
They found that air pollution had a strong negative effect on honeybee cognition. The honeybees exposed to low, medium and high air pollutant concentrations had a lower proportion of bees that successfully learnt odours compared to those exposed to current ambient pollution levels. They also found that short- and long-term odour memory was significantly impaired.
The reason for the effects is unclear, but the researchers suggest that the gasses and/or combinations of gasses, particulate matter and heavy metals found in traffic-related air pollution may be important. For example, carbon dioxide can alter cellular pH levels and affect nerve cells.
Learning and memory are essential for locating and discriminating between flowers, and the researchers conclude that air pollution will have negative impacts on foraging.
Read the paper:
Leonard, R.J., Pettit, T.J., Irga, P., McArthur, C. & Hochuli, D.F. (2019) Acute exposure to urban air pollution impairs olfactory learning and memory in honeybees. Ecotoxicology, 28, 1056–1062. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-019-02081-7
Banner image: Apis mellifera - Brassica napus - Valingu.
Copyright: Ivar Leidus. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/