Interacting maternal and spatial cues influence natal – dispersal out of social groups

Eric C. Yip, Dinesh Rao, Deborah R. Smith, Yael Lubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Proximate cues for animal dispersal are complex and varied. Multiple cues may provide information about different aspects of habitat quality, and these aspects may interact with each other, as well as with population density in different ways. We examined how individuals incorporate multiple cues in their decisions to emigrate and immigrate in the colonial orb-weaving spider, Cyrtophora citricola. We manipulated maternal feeding as a cue for prey abundance and measured the size of the maternal web, which provides a limited space for philopatric offspring and a second potential dispersal cue. In addition, we recorded all immigration events to determine dispersal distances and the cues juveniles may use in settlement. Dispersal increased when mothers were poorly fed, web sizes were small and clutch sizes were large. In addition to these overall effects, maternal feeding also interacted with web size, indicating that offspring from well-fed mothers were more tolerant of high sibling densities. We also detected a threshold for the effect of clutch size on dispersal for the first egg sac: below 20 offspring, there was no effect of clutch size, but dispersal increased with clutch size for larger clutches. Dispersal distances were often short, and immigrants preferred sheltered trees and those occupied by adult females. Dispersal not only depended on multiple cues, but these cues interacted, and the importance of web size suggested that saturation of the natal web might force dispersal, at least for spiders with poorly-fed mothers. How one aspect of habitat quality influences dispersal can therefore depend on the state of other aspects of habitat quality. In particular, some natal resources, such as a nest or territory, may become saturated and limit group size, but this limit will also depend on other factors, such as prey availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1793-1804
Number of pages12
JournalOikos
Volume128
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • habitat quality
  • habitat saturation
  • maternal effects
  • natal dispersal
  • philopatry
  • spider

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