Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nepotism Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Survival, At Least For Spiders

Date:
November 1, 2009
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
While nepotism may have negative connotations in politics and the workplace, being surrounded by your relatives does lead to better group dynamics and more cooperation in some animals. That seems to be the case for spiders. Researchers found that Stegodyphus tentoriicola spiders are far more efficient at foraging for food and cooperate better when they're related to each other.

Stegodyphus tentoriicola.
Credit: Jasmin Ruch et al, image courtesy of BioMed Central

While nepotism may have negative connotations in politics and the workplace, being surrounded by your relatives does lead to better group dynamics and more cooperation in some animals. That certainly seems to be the case for spiders, according to a new study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. In an extensive study, the researchers found that Stegodyphus tentoriicola spiders are far more efficient at foraging for food and cooperate better when they're related to each other. Like with humans and other animals, relatedness may favour the evolution of less selfish behavior, more collaboration and better group dynamics.

Jutta Schneider and her students Jasmin Ruch and Lisa Heinrich from University of Hamburg, Germany, and Trine Bilde from Aarhus University, Denmark, organized spiders into different groups to collect food. While some groups were entirely made up of siblings, others included only non-siblings. Spiders working with their kin were more motivated to share digestive enzymes with the other spiders, allowing them to consume their prey more quickly. The spiders that were related also worked more communally when foraging for food, which benefited the entire group.

This study shows that working with relatives also seems to be important for maintaining harmony as the size of a group increases. In larger groups, there is an increased tendency to reduce collaboration and exploit other group members so groups become more fractured, competitive and unproductive. This phenomenon is known as 'the tragedy of the commons'. However, social groupings of spiders composed of siblings were able to offset those self-destructive patterns and maintain a higher level of productivity.

"Stegodyphus spiders represent one of the few study systems of the evolution of cooperation with convincing empirical evidence for genuine kin discrimination as opposed to nest-mate recognition," says one of the authors, Jasmin Ruch.

As well as providing valuable information about the importance of family unity in survival, these findings offer hints about the future success of various social groups. Given that cooperation among relatives is common throughout the animal kingdom, groups consisting of relatives will be more likely to remain together and develop social structures to maintain more lasting groups. These findings strongly echo behavior in humans throughout history.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jasmin Ruch, Lisa Heinrich, Trine Bilde and Jutta M Schneider. Relatedness facilitates cooperation in the subsocial spider, Stegodyphus tentoriicola. BMC Evolutionary Biology, (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Nepotism Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Survival, At Least For Spiders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026192905.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2009, November 1). Nepotism Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Survival, At Least For Spiders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026192905.htm
BioMed Central. "Nepotism Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Survival, At Least For Spiders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026192905.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins