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Sibling Aggregation Preference Depends on Activity Phase in the European Earwig (Forficula auricularia)

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Abstract

Benefits and costs of group living may be differentially influenced by kinship or familiarity and depend on context. For example, aggregation with kin may be costly in a mating context due to the risk of inbreeding, but beneficial in social interactions because it may reduce within-group competition. Research investigating aggregation behaviour in different contexts is scarce, especially in gregarious invertebrates. In the present study, we investigated the aggregation among adult European earwigs (Forficula auricularia) by comparing the aggregation behaviour of groups composed of individuals from two different families with the aggregation dynamics of groups composed of individuals from the same family (siblings). Aggregation behaviour was measured both during the night (active phase) and during the day (inactive phase). Our results showed enhanced aggregation among individuals from the same family at night, but lack of such preferences during the day. These findings demonstrate that earwigs are able to recognize familiar relatives and that this information is used for aggregation decisions at night, while they are most active, but not during the day when they rest.

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