While many studies focus on how animals use public information, the dynamics of information spread and maintenance within groups, i.e. the ‘ecology of information’, have received little attention. Here we use fruitflies trained to lay eggs on specific substrates to implement information into groups containing both trained and untrained individuals. We quantify inter-individual interactions and then measure the spread of oviposition preference with behavioural tests. Untrained individuals increase their interactive approaches in the presence of trained individuals, and the oviposition preference transmission is directly proportional to how much trained and untrained individuals interact. Unexpectedly, the preference of trained individuals to their trained oviposition substrate decreases after interactions with untrained individuals, leading to an overall informational loss. This shows that social learning alone is not enough to support informational stability.
- social learning
- social interaction