Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides clues to the early evolution of social behavior

15.04.2014

Biologists from Mainz and Basel investigate food sharing among siblings in 125 earwig families

Looking at the question of how social behavior has developed over the course of evolution, scientists from the universities in Mainz and Basel have gained new insights from the study of earwigs. "Young earwig offspring don't simply compete for food.


A female European earwig both cleans and transports her offspring

photo/©: Joël Meunier, JGU

Rather the siblings share what is available amongst themselves, especially when the mother is absent," explained Dr. Joël Meunier of the Evolutionary Biology section of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (JGU). The team of biologists from Mainz University and the University of Basel investigated the interactions between siblings of the European earwig (Forficula auricularia).

To date, insects have been only little studied with regard to cooperative behavior between siblings, except in the case of eusocial species, such as bees and ants. The European earwig provides, as the research project shows, valuable clues to the origins of social behavior patterns.

... more about:
»Biology »Evolutionary »earwigs »eggs »offspring »siblings

The animal kingdom has an unbelievable diversity of forms of social life. These encompass situations such as the temporary aggregation of single individuals to social communities based on the division of labor. For evolutionary biologists this poses question of how these ubiquitous social life forms emerged despite the accompanying disadvantages of competition and conflict among group members. When it comes to birds, for example, the competition among siblings is often so fierce that some of the younger animals die.

"In the case of earwigs, we have a system that closely resembles the primitive conditions of family life," said Jos Kramer, a doctoral candidate on Meunier’s team. In fall, female earwigs lay on average 40 to 45 eggs and stay over the winter with them. The mothers watch the eggs, keep them clean by licking off fungi, for example, and carry them back and forth in the nest. Once the young, the so-called nymphs, emerge, they stay in the nest for few weeks with their mothers, even if the presence of this 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.

Images:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/10_zoologie_ohrwuermer_familie.jpg
A female European earwig (Forficula auricularia) with her young
photo: Joël Meunier

http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/10_zoologie_ohrwuermer_mutter_nymphen.jpg
A female European earwig both cleans and transports her offspring
photo: Joël Meunier

Publication:
Joachim Falk et al.
Sibling Cooperation in Earwig Families Provides Insights into the Early Evolution of Social Life
The American Naturalist, 11 February 2014
DOI: 10.1086/675364

Further information:
Dr. Joël Meunier
Evolutionary Biology
Institute of Zoology
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
D 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-27852
fax +49 6131 39-27850
e-mail: meunier@uni-mainz.de
http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/evobio/322_ENG_HTML.php

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/evobio/217_DEU_HTML.php ;
http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/675364 (Article)

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Biology Evolutionary earwigs eggs offspring siblings

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells
27.09.2016 | University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln

nachricht A blue stoplight to prevent runaway photosynthesis
27.09.2016 | National Institute for Basic Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>