Texas field crickets (Gryllus texensis) use visual cues to place learn but perform poorly when intra- and extra-maze cues conflict

Dovid Y. Kozlovsky, Kennesaw State University
Marc Antoine Poirier, University of Ottawa
Ethan Hermer, University of Ottawa
Susan M. Bertram, Carleton University


Central place foraging field crickets are an ideal system for studying the adaptive value of learning and memory, but more research is needed on ecologically relevant cognition in these invertebrates. Here, we test the visuospatial place learning of Texas field crickets (Gryllus texensis) in a radial arm maze. Our study expands previous work on G. texensis cognition for accuracy measures and extends our previous findings on females to both sexes. Additionally, our study examines whether crickets use intra- or extra-maze cues to locate a food reward using a maze rotation that puts the cues in conflict. We found that male and female crickets improved performance over trials when measured by accuracy variables but not latency variables. Thigmotaxis negatively impacted performance in both sexes. In a reward-absent trial, both male and female crickets demonstrated place memory. When intra- and extra-maze cues conflicted during a rotation trial, crickets’ performance was not better than chance. Our rotation results suggest that crickets may experience reciprocal overshadowing of conflicting cues – a result most often seen in other taxa with conflicting multi-modal cues. We conclude that crickets do not rely solely on: (1) a single-cue association, (2) route-following, or (3) their own scent cues to navigate the maze. Instead, male and female Texas field crickets seem to learn the location of the reward using a combination of proximal and distal cues. The possibility to test large numbers of wild-caught or laboratory-reared individuals opens the door to future investigations on the evolutionary ecology of visuospatial learning in these invertebrates.