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Abstract

Cooperative social life originated independently at least 3 times in the eresid spider genus Stegodyphus. The ultimate and proximate factors for sociogenesis have been analyzed in two African social species, S. dumicola and S. mimosarum.

  • 1
    More profitable hunting as the ultimate benefit of sociality can explain group sizes up to 30 individuals. Most groups are much larger, reducing average female fecundity. They benefit mainly from the shelter against predators provided by the compact silk nest as a heritable resource.
  • 2
    Sociogenesis is not based on extended maternal care but on interattraction and tolerance of juvenile spiders, retained throughout life in females. Their neotenic sociality came to overlap with advanced (pedomorphic) sexual maturity. This evolutionary pathway towards sociality is called the “sibling-route”.
  • 3
    Negative side effects, accumulating with group size, may make sociality in Stegodyphus evolutionarily unstable.