, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 101-107

Cooperative prey capture by young subsocial spiders: II. Behavioral mechanism

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Abstract

Subsocial spiders demonstrate an intermediate stage in the evolution of permanent sociality. Cooperative hunting is an important attribute of their sociality, but has not been documented in subsocial arthropods. After cannibalizing their mother, young of the subsocial spider Amaurobius ferox (Araneae, Amaurobiidae) remain together for several instars and feed communally. We monitored the collective prey capture behavior of the spiderlings. All the clutches showed collective capturing sequence (latency–orientation–moving–touching–seizing–feeding) toward the prey that was 10 times more massive than each individual. The first three individuals that exhibited attacking behavior were responsible for 90% of the total number of attacks, while 68% of the individuals within the group never exhibited attacks during the first 10 min following the introduction of prey into the communal web. First arriving individuals at the prey most often seized the antennae and legs of the prey, which probably facilitate access to the prey for subsequent individuals. The spiderlings that arrived later occupied more likely the abdomen and thorax, which contain more nutrition than the extremities occupied earlier. The individual apportionment of collective hunting behavior suggests a coordinated teamwork among individuals.

Communicated by M.A. Elgar