Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Size, personality matter in how Kalahari social spiders perform tasks

Date:
March 20, 2014
Source:
Springer
Summary:
At first glance, colonies of thousands of social spiders all look the same and are busy with the same tasks. Not so, says researchers after carefully studying various gatherings of social spiders of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. The size and condition of a particular spider's body indicates which task it generally performs within a colony. In addition, neighboring colonies can have different "personalities" too.

A pair of Stegodyphus dumicola females beside the colony retreat in the field.
Credit: Image courtesy of Springer

At first glance, colonies of thousands of social spiders all look the same and are busy with the same tasks. Not so, says researchers Carl Keiser and Devin Jones of the University of Pittsburgh in the US, after carefully studying various gatherings of Stegodyphus dumicola social spiders of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. The size and condition of a particular spider's body indicates which task it generally performs within a colony. In addition, neighboring colonies can have different "personalities" too, writes Keiser, lead author of a study published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Related Articles


Stegodyphus dumicola spiders live in colonies of up to 2,000 members in thorn trees in the arid parts of southwestern Africa. The spiders build large webs consisting of dense communal living areas and a two-dimensional capture web. To study them, Keiser and his colleagues transported various colonies collected in the southern Kalahari Desert to their laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. They then carefully watched to what extent individuals were involved in tasks such as attacks, web building or web repairing.

Keiser and his colleagues believe that such studies are vital to understand how the traits and actions of individuals combine to form and develop the social organization and collective behavior of a particular species. In the case of Stegodyphus dumicola, the research group found that body size and body condition influence the chances that an individual spider will perform a range of tasks needed to maintain the colony. Spiders with smaller bodies are more likely to help with web building and maintenance. Those who are in better condition tend not to capture prey, while those with lower body condition are more likely to be busy with foraging.

A colony's "personality" or collective behavior is best predicted by the variety of individual spiders living within it. Colonies with members with different body sizes or aggression levels contain spiders which are slower to emerge from their nest to attack prey. Variation in boldness within colonies is in turn linked with better chances that more individual spiders will take part in standard web building activities.

"The results are intriguing because this trait variation and its resulting task differentiation gives rise to a cooperative breeding society composed of highly related, inbred individuals. The spiders are of nearly identical age and develop together in synchrony," explains Keiser. "Our findings differ from the once conventional reasoning among social spider researchers that social spider societies are homogenous and egalitarian."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Carl N. Keiser, Devin K. Jones, Andreas P. Modlmeier, Jonathan N. Pruitt. Exploring the effects of individual traits and within-colony variation on task differentiation and collective behavior in a desert social spider. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-014-1696-9

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Size, personality matter in how Kalahari social spiders perform tasks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320115757.htm>.
Springer. (2014, March 20). Size, personality matter in how Kalahari social spiders perform tasks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320115757.htm
Springer. "Size, personality matter in how Kalahari social spiders perform tasks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320115757.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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