Aerial electroreception in Bombus terrestris
: examination of spatial resolution and exploration of implications for functionality and evolution.

  • Molly E Rogers

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research (MScR)


Bombus terrestris, the buff-tailed bumblebee, is widespread across the UK and Europe. This species has been extensively studied as a model organism, and much is known about its natural history and behavioural ecology. B. terrestris is known to be a generalist forager and to rely on sensory information to locate food sources.
This bee has recently been shown to be receptive to electric fields, and to be able to learn and discriminate between different electric field geometries. While a putative mechanism of electroreception has been suggested, there are still many questions to be answered regarding the function of electroreception in the behaviour and ecology of B. terrestris, and how electrical information is processed by the bee.
This study examines the electric sense in B. terrestris, aiming to clarify the potential ways this sense may impact the way the bee experiences the world and how, in turn, this will affect its behaviour. The study focusses on elucidating the spatial resolution of the sense, providing suggestions for a procedure to use in future work, and speculates about the ways in which this information may aid in understanding electroreception further.
Date of Award24 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorDaniel Robert (Supervisor) & Marc W Holderied (Supervisor)


  • Electroreception
  • sensory ecology
  • behaviour
  • bumblebee
  • electric ecology

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