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Sibling cooperation in earwig families gives clues to early evolution of social behavior
Date:4/15/2014

s latter is no longer necessary for their survival. Indeed, the nymphs could leave the family unit soon after emergence and take care of themselves from then on.

These sub-social forms of life provide the ideal field of research for investigating under what conditions the advantages of cooperation in a family unit outweigh the disadvantages. For this purpose, the scientists from Mainz and Basel provided 125 earwig families with dyed pollen and observed if and how the food was divided amongst the siblings. "We found that siblings behave cooperatively and share food and that this behavior occurs much more frequently when the mother is not present and is not feeding her offspring herself," stated Meunier. This may at least partly explain why mobile offspring stay with the family group despite the disadvantages associated with this. In addition, this insight provides an important clue to the early development of social behavior. The previously largely ignored aspect of sibling cooperation is possibly one of the key factors that promoted the transition from solitary to social life.


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Contact: Dr. Joël Meunier
meunier@uni-mainz.de
49-613-139-27852
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
Source:Eurekalert  

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