Shape discrimination by wasps (Paravespula germanica) at the food source: generalization among various types of contrast

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2004 Aug;190(8):651-63. doi: 10.1007/s00359-004-0523-6. Epub 2004 May 15.


Wasps ( Paravespula germanica) were trained and tested at an artificial feeding site, using convex shapes that produced colour contrast, luminance contrast, or motion contrast against the background. With each of the three types of contrast, we tested the wasps' capacity to discriminate the learned shape from novel shapes. In addition, in each experiment we tested the wasps' capability to recognize the learned shape when it offered a different type of contrast than that it had during the training. With the coloured shapes, a side-glance at the colour discrimination performance of the wasps was possible in addition. Wasps are found to discriminate between a variety of convex shapes regardless of the type of contrast that they produce against the background. Mainly, they discriminate the learned shape from novel shapes even if the colour of the shapes or the type of contrast they produce against the background is altered in the test. Thus, wasps generalize the learned shape from one colour to another, as well as between colour contrast, luminance contrast, and motion contrast.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Choice Behavior
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Wasps