Similar patterns of frequency-dependent selection on animal personalities emerge in three species of social spiders Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Frequency-dependent selection is thought to be a major contributor to the maintenance of phenotypic variation. We tested for frequency-dependent selection on contrasting behavioural strategies, termed here 'personalities', in three species of social spiders, each thought to represent an independent evolutionary origin of sociality. The evolution of sociality in the spider genus Anelosimus is consistently met with the emergence of two temporally stable discrete personality types: an 'aggressive' or 'docile' form. We assessed how the foraging success of each phenotype changes as a function of its representation within a colony. We did this by creating experimental colonies of various compositions (six aggressives, three aggressives and three dociles, one aggressive and five dociles, six dociles), maintaining them in a common garden for 3 weeks, and tracking the mass gained by individuals of either phenotype. We found that both the docile and aggressive phenotypes experienced their greatest mass gain in mixed colonies of mostly docile individuals. However, the performance of both phenotypes decreased as the frequency of the aggressive phenotype increased. Nearly identical patterns of phenotype-specific frequency dependence were recovered in all three species. Naturally occurring colonies of these spiders exhibit mixtures dominated by the docile phenotype, suggesting that these spiders may have evolved mechanisms to maintain the compositions that maximize the success of the colony without compromising the expected reproductive output of either phenotype.

publication date

  • June 2015