Individual personalities shape task differentiation in a social spider

Grinsted, Lena, Pruitt, Jonathan N, Settepani, Virginia and Bilde, Trine (2013) Individual personalities shape task differentiation in a social spider. Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1767). p. 20131407. ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology > QH0359 Evolution
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology > QH0540 Ecology
Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: Lena Grinsted
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2014 15:01
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2014 15:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/49550
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