Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior

Date:
April 15, 2014
Source:
Universität Mainz
Summary:
Looking at the question of how social behavior has developed over the course of evolution, scientists have gained new insights from the study of earwigs. "Young earwig offspring don't simply compete for food. Rather the siblings share what is available amongst themselves, especially when the mother is absent," explained one of the researchers.

A female European earwig both cleans and transports her offspring.
Credit: Copyright Joël Meunier

Looking at the question of how social behavior has developed over the course of evolution, scientists from the universities in Mainz and Basel have gained new insights from the study of earwigs. "Young earwig offspring don't simply compete for food. Rather the siblings share what is available amongst themselves, especially when the mother is absent," explained Dr. Joël Meunier of the Evolutionary Biology section of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (JGU).

Related Articles


The team of biologists from Mainz University and the University of Basel investigated the interactions between siblings of the European earwig (Forficula auricularia). To date, insects have been only little studied with regard to cooperative behavior between siblings, except in the case of eusocial species, such as bees and ants. The European earwig provides, as the research project shows, valuable clues to the origins of social behavior patterns.

The animal kingdom has an unbelievable diversity of forms of social life. These encompass situations such as the temporary aggregation of single individuals to social communities based on the division of labor. For evolutionary biologists this poses question of how these ubiquitous social life forms emerged despite the accompanying disadvantages of competition and conflict among group members. When it comes to birds, for example, the competition among siblings is often so fierce that some of the younger animals die.

"In the case of earwigs, we have a system that closely resembles the primitive conditions of family life," said Jos Kramer, a doctoral candidate on Meunier's team. In fall, female earwigs lay on average 40 to 45 eggs and stay over the winter with them. The mothers watch the eggs, keep them clean by licking off fungi, for example, and carry them back and forth in the nest. Once the young, the so-called nymphs, emerge, they stay in the nest for few weeks with their mothers, even if the presence of this latter is no longer necessary for their survival. Indeed, the nymphs could leave the family unit soon after emergence and take care of themselves from then on.

These sub-social forms of life provide the ideal field of research for investigating under what conditions the advantages of cooperation in a family unit outweigh the disadvantages. For this purpose, the scientists from Mainz and Basel provided 125 earwig families with dyed pollen and observed if and how the food was divided amongst the siblings. "We found that siblings behave cooperatively and share food and that this behavior occurs much more frequently when the mother is not present and is not feeding her offspring herself," stated Meunier. This may at least partly explain why mobile offspring stay with the family group despite the disadvantages associated with this. In addition, this insight provides an important clue to the early development of social behavior. The previously largely ignored aspect of sibling cooperation is possibly one of the key factors that promoted the transition from solitary to social life.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Joachim Falk, Janine W. Y. Wong, Mathias Kölliker, Joël Meunier. Sibling Cooperation in Earwig Families Provides Insights into the Early Evolution of Social Life. The American Naturalist, 2014; 183 (4): 547 DOI: 10.1086/675364

Cite This Page:

Universität Mainz. "Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415112246.htm>.
Universität Mainz. (2014, April 15). Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415112246.htm
Universität Mainz. "Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415112246.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
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