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1 November 2017 In the spider nursery: indifference, cooperation or antagonism?
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Based on studies of adult behavior, the desert spider Agelenopsis aperta (Gertsch, 1934) is considered exemplary of a species exhibiting an aggressive syndrome. This study offers a first examination of the nature of interactions that juvenile A. aperta engage in during the period when sibs are clustered on a group web. We test the hypothesis that early instar A. aperta lack the aggressiveness noted for older instars. Our data set is comprised of observations of five weekly feedings offered to 818 sibling pairs, constituting an average of 4.6 replicate sib pairs from each of 174 families. At each weekly feeding, a worker termite was offered to each sib in the shared container in which they had built web retreats. We observed no cooperative foraging during the course of these feedings. Rather, most families exhibited a mix of independent foraging and non-injurious contests over prey. We present a brief overview of the occurrence and initiation of contests over prey, with particular reference to the weekly feeding in which contests first occur versus the feeding in which a seminal contest takes place (i.e., where sibs earn permanent winner versus loser status).

Susan E. Riechert, Jonathan Pruitt, and Jennifer Bosco "In the spider nursery: indifference, cooperation or antagonism?," The Journal of Arachnology 45(3), 283-286, (1 November 2017).
Received: 29 September 2016; Published: 1 November 2017

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