Dominance of females in spider colonies has reduced the number of fights

(ORDO NEWS) — Although the expression “spiders in a jar” is true for many species of these invertebrates, there are species of spiders that live and forage in colonies.

Now researchers have figured out why in some colonies peace and tranquility reign, while in others spiders constantly sort things out with each other.

When it comes to animals that live in groups, most people think of mammals and birds like elephants and terns. Few people think of spiders when they hear the word “social”.

Meanwhile, there are several species of these eight-legged animals (only about 0.1 percent of the total), which combine individual webs into extensive networks.

In most social species, each spider protects its web and does not allow competitors to enter it, and in some cases, there are even fights between animals for caught prey or a partner ready for mating.

However, in some colonies, conflicts between spiders occur much less often, and this time the researchers decided to find out why.

For 18 days, students from the University of California at Los Angeles (USA) observed 34 colonies of social spiders of the Philoponella republicana species in southeastern Peru.

According to their observations, the spiders cooperated in weaving webs and capturing prey, but refused to share food with each other or jointly repel alien invasions from other colonies.

Curiously, the most “peaceful” colonies were those where the number of females exceeded the number of males, but the females were small and medium in size.

If there were too many large spiders in the colony, they got the lion’s share of all the food they got, and the neighboring spiders began to more aggressively defend their territory from invasion.

Dominance of females in spider colonies has reduced the number of fights 2
Watching spiders in the rainforest

In terms of sociality , Philoponella republicana is more like colonial seabirds that nest in the same area, but aggressively chase away intruders and do not feed alien chicks.

At the same time, there are also small non-territorial species of social spiders that move freely along the common web, catch prey together and care for the brood, resembling bees and ants in this.


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