Is There Division of Labor in Cooperative Pseudoscorpions? An Analysis of the Behavioral Repertoire of a Tropical Species

Authors

  • Everton Tizo-Pedroso,

    1.  Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Un.U. de Morrinhos, Goiás, Brazil
    2.  Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação de Recursos Naturais, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kleber Del-Claro

    1.  Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação de Recursos Naturais, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil
    Search for more papers by this author

Kleber Del-Claro, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação de Recursos Naturais, CP 593, Cep 38400-902, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
E-mail: delclaro@ufu.br

Abstract

Division of labor is a strategy that maximizes the foraging and reproductive success of eusocial insects. Although some arachnids exhibit colony structure and social organization similar to that of hymenopterans, temporal polyethism has only been demonstrated in few species. The social organization of cooperative pseudoscorpions Paratemnoides nidificator is similar to that of social spiders, but it involves a clear division of labor. Work allocation was experimentally investigated in colonies composed of only one developmental stage (young or adults) or by one sex (males or females), through laboratory manipulation. During 44 h of observation, more than 14 000 behavioral repetitions were quantified, distributed in 95 different types of behavioral acts, and grouped in 10 behavioral categories. The results showed that reproductive colonies of P. nidificator are maintained by gender- and age-based activities. Males and non-reproductive females performed the external cleaning of the colony and prey capture. Reproductive females take care of the juveniles and build reproductive silk chambers. Nymphs build most of the molt chambers and perform internal cleaning. In the absence of nymphs, male colonies survived 1–2 mo, while female colonies survived 3–4 mo. In nymph colonies, work is readjusted so that all maintenance tasks are executed. This is the first study clearly demonstrating division of tasks in arachnids. It suggests that specialization is an adaptative and evolutionarily old trait in this species. Unlike cooperative spiders, P. nidificator possesses physiological (e.g. reproduction, ecdysis, lifespan) and behavioral (e.g. behavioral synchrony or self-organization) characteristics that allow task specialization.

Ancillary