Faculty Advisor

Gegear, Robert J.


Neonicotinoid pesticides are widely thought to be a major contributing factor in the recent worldwide decline of insect pollinators, yet mechanisms involved are poorly understood. I examined sublethal effects of chronic oral Clothianidin exposure on the behavior of bumblebees (Bombus impatiens). Foragers exposed to field-realistic doses showed a significantly reduced ability to flexibly switch between different floral resources. Pesticide-exposed foragers also showed a strong bias for selected flowers based on color rather than odor. These results suggest that chronic neonicotinoid exposure can impair neural functions required for foragers to effectively collect floral resources. Future work will determine if these behavioral changes in foragers are sufficient to cause population decline.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2015


Biology and Biotechnology

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Biology and Biotechnology

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