Individual personalities shape task differentiation in a social spider

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Deciphering the mechanisms involved in shaping social structure is key to a deeper understanding of the evolutionary processes leading to sociality. Individual specialization within groups can increase colony efficiency and consequently productivity. Here, we test the hypothesis that within-group variation in individual personalities (i.e. boldness and aggression) can shape task differentiation. The social spider Stegodyphus sarasinorum (Eresidae) showed task differentiation (significant unequal participation) in simulated prey capture events across 10-day behavioural assays in the field, independent of developmental stage (level of maturation), eliminating age polyethism. Participation in prey capture was positively associated with level of boldness but not with aggression. Body size positively correlated with being the first spider to emerge from the colony as a response to prey capture but not with being the first to attack, and dispersal distance from experimental colonies correlated with attacking but not with emerging. This suggests that different behavioural responses to prey capture result from a complex set of individual characteristics. Boldness and aggression correlated positively, but neither was associated with body size, developmental stage or dispersal distance. Hence, we show that personalities shape task differentiation in a social spider independent of age and maturation. Our results suggest that personality measures obtained in solitary, standardized laboratory settings can be reliable predictors of behaviour in a social context in the field. Given the wealth of organisms that show consistent individual behavioural differences, animal personality could play a role in social organization in a diversity of animals.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Vol/bind280
Nummer1767
Sider (fra-til)20131407
ISSN0962-8452
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2013

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