Wired: Armed with branch cutters, pillowcases, and a vibrator, a team of scientists has discovered how social spiders in India assign chores within their colonies – and they say it has to do with spider personalities.
Big and bold? Go get that grasshopper! Slightly more timid? Maybe stay home, take care of the brood, and clean the nest or something.
“Bolder individuals were the ones that engaged in prey attack,” said Lena Grinsted, now a postdoc at the University of Sussex, and coauthor of the study describing the spiders that appeared July 30 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “We hypothesize that the ones who don’t participate in prey attack participate in brood care, but it’s something we haven’t tested yet.”
The researchers say their findings support the idea that spiders have personalities. Sure, they’re not as complex as human personalities, but they’re defined by behavior differences that are consistent over time and context. In this study, scientists tested whether the division of labor was related to personality in the social spiders Stegodyphus sarasinorum. [Continue reading…]