Operant conditioning in antlion larvae and its impairment following exposure to elevated temperatures

Krzysztof Miler*, Inon Scharf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although ambush predators were previously considered limited in their cognitive abilities compared to their widely foraging relatives, there is accumulating evidence it does not hold true. Pit-building antlions are already known to associate vibrations in the sand with the arrival of prey. We used a T-maze and successfully trained antlions to turn right or left against their initial turning bias, leading to a suitable substrate for digging traps. We present here the first evidence for operant conditioning and T-maze solving in antlions. Furthermore, we show that exposure of second instar larvae to an elevated temperature led to impaired retention of what was learned in a T-maze when tested after moulting into the third instar, compared to larvae raised under a more benign temperature. We suggest that climate change, involving an increase in mean temperatures as well as rare events (e.g., heatwaves) might negatively affect the retention of operant conditioning in antlions, alongside known, more frequently studied effects, such as changes in body size and distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-518
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


FundersFunder number
Narodowe Centrum Nauki2019/32/C/NZ8/00128


    • Climate change
    • Cognition
    • Heat
    • Memory
    • Myrmeleon hyalinus
    • Spatial learning
    • T-maze
    • Thermal stress


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