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Associative learning in a harvestman (Arachnida, Opiliones)

dos Santos, Gilson Costa, Hogan, Jerry A., Willemart, Rodrigo Hirata
Behavioural processes 2013 v.100 pp. 64-66
Araneae, Opiliones, green tea, invertebrates, learning, tropics, white light
Associative learning has been demonstrated in many species of invertebrates, but has not been studied in arachnids, except for some spiders and a whip-spider. Herein, we tested the ability of a Neotropical harvestman, Discocyrtus invalidus (Arachnida, Opiliones) to associate a shelter with a chemical stimulus. We used an arena with a white light at the top and two openings on the floor, one giving access to a dark shelter and the other one closed with a mesh. Filter paper with different chemicals (mate or green tea) surrounded both openings. A harvestman (n=37) was released in the arena and its behavior recorded. The procedure was repeated for 14 consecutive days with each individual. We found that harvestmen got faster at finding the refuge, became less exploratory and tended to move toward the open shelter as the days passed. We conclude that the animals learned to associate the chemical stimulus with the shelter.