For plant-inhabiting predatory mites, living among familiar neighbors reduces stress. This allows individuals to focus on other tasks and be more productive, in particular while they are foraging. The new study by Markus Strodl and Peter Schausberger, from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, supports the theory that so-called 'social familiarity' reduces the cognitive, physiological and behavioral costs of group-living, leading to increased efficiency in other tasks. Their work is published online in Springer's journal, Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.
Species living in groups, such as the spider mites' predator, Phytoseiulus persimilis, face a number of stressors including social interactions with other individuals of the same species during the juvenile development phase. This is particularly so when they live in small patches with limited food availability. Within such patches, these individuals compete for food, space and future mates or may even be mutual predators. In order to reduce these conflicts, many group-living species are able to discriminate familiar and unfamiliar individuals based on prior contact, and familiar individuals tend to stick together.
Strodl and Schausberger studied whether a familiar social environment during the juvenile phase had any positive effects on the predatory mite's development. Among this species, group-living is brought about by the predators foraging, reproducing and developing spider mite webs, as well as mutual attraction.
In a series of three experiments, the authors showed that familiarity had significant effects on individual grouping and foraging traits of juvenile P. persimilis. In mixed-age groups of familiar and unfamiliar individuals, familiar individuals preferred to stick together.
Life-stage influenced this grouping behavior: larvae were much closer together than older individuals. In groups of individuals of the same age, the distances between individuals were smaller within groups of familiar mites than within groups of unfamiliar mites.
At similar developmental speed and body size at maturity, juvenile mites held in familiar groups foraged more efficiently than juvenile mites held in unfamiliar groups. The authors also identified a sensitive familiarization period during the larval stage, with memory persisting into the adult stage.
Strodl MA & Schausberger P (2012). Social familiarity modulates group-living and foraging behavior of juvenile predatory mites. Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature; DOI 10.1007/s00114-012-0903-7
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Pigs ‘edited’ with a warthog gene to resist African swine fever could help spawn GM animal farms in the UK
Mouse House to make naturalist biopic, six years after box-office failure of Creation, starring Paul Bettany
International team spends 10 years making inroads into treatment of bacterium which kills up to half of those it infects
You may not know it, but you probably have some Neanderthal in you. For people around the world, except sub-Saharan Africans, about 1 to 3 percent of their DNA comes from Neanderthals, our close cousins who disappeared roughly 39,000 years ago.
Research at Yale plotted what happened in the brains of two scientists as they held a conversation
From medicines to jet fuel, we have so many reasons to celebrate the microbes we live with every day
Genome sequencing indicates Kennewick Man is Native American, reopening the bitter battle over whether he should be reburied or studied
In the article on the discovery of dinosaurs (They’re back, Review, 6 June) you state: “In Sussex, a local doctor uncovered fragmentary remains of what appeared to be two more species of colossal extinct land reptiles.” You grossly underplay the contribution of Lewes-born Gideon Mantell, geologist and palaeontologist, author and diarist, friend to princes and international scholars as well as local doctor. Mantell not only discovered (aided by his wife) the first remains of the iguanodon in 1824 but named it – as it resembled the tooth of an iguana. This was the first known land dinosaur, Mary Anning having identified the first sea-living dinosaur.Mantell went on to put together more pieces of the jigsaw with extra fossil discoveries. In contrast to Richard Owen, whose models form the basis for the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, Mantell stated correctly that iguanodon would have walked on their back legs, using their forearms to fight or gather food. He did, however, attribute the thumb spike to a nose horn though later corrected this assumption. The Natural History Museum has a display on Gideon and his wife Mary’s contribution as well as the large “Mantell-piece” of Iguanodon fossils that he had on show in his museum in Brighton. He sold it, along with many more priceless items, to the British Museum in 1838. Gideon Mantell’s reputation deserves better than your throwaway remark. Debby MatthewsLewes, East Sussex Continue reading...
Unique triangular hairs help keep Saharan silver ants cool at 70°C by manipulating the physics of light
Most animals wouldn't confront a fearsome predator like a lion. But through sophisticated group work, hyenas launch successful raids