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Variation in nesting behavior of eight species of spider mites, Stigmaeopsis having sociality

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Abstract

Nesting behavior is considered to be an important element of social living in animals. The spider mites belonging to the genus Stigmaeopsis spend their lives within nests produced from silk threads. Several of these species show cooperative sociality, while the others are subsocial. In order to identify the origins of this social behavior, comparisons of nest sizes, nesting behaviors (making nests continuously or separately), and their associated traits (fecal deposition patterns) were made for eight cogeneric Stigmaeopsis species showing various levels of social development. All of these species inhabit bamboo plants (Poaceae). We initially addressed the proximate factor of nest size variation. The variation in nest size of the eight species corresponded well with the variation in dorsal seta sc1 length, suggesting that nest size variation among species may have a genetic basis. The time spent within a nest (nest duration) increased with nest size on the respective host plants. Nest arrangement patterns varied among species showing different sized nests: Large nest builders continuously extended their nests, while middle and small nest-building species built new separate nests, which resulted in different social interaction times among species, and is thought to be closely related to social development. Fecal deposition behaviors also varied among Stigmaeopsis species, suggesting diversity in anti-predatory adaptations. Finally, we discuss how the variation in sociality observed within this genus is likely the result of nest size variation that initially evolved as anti-predator strategies.

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Acknowledgments

We thank S. Akimoto, X. Wang, J. Ji, X. Chen, L. Sun, Y. Uchida, and Q. Y. Liu for their help and advice. This study was supported by the Fujian Council of Natural Science Foundation (2014J01108), Science and Technology Innovation Team of Fujian Academy of Agricultural Science (CXTD-2-1313), China Recruitment Program of Global Experts (Foreign Experts) (2012-323), Ministry of Agriculture Special Fund for Scientific Research in the Public Interest (201103020), the 863 program (2011AA10A201), the Fujian Council Fund for Scientific Research in the Public Interest (2014R1024-4), the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs Key Project for Introduction of Foreign Expert (SZ2013003), and the JSPS KAKENHI (Japan) No. 24570014.

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Correspondence to Yutaka Saito.

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Communicated by: Sven Thatje

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Saito, Y., Zhang, YX., Mori, K. et al. Variation in nesting behavior of eight species of spider mites, Stigmaeopsis having sociality. Sci Nat 103, 87 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-016-1408-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-016-1408-6

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