Is there division of labour in the social spider Achaearanea wau (Theridiidae)?

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33 Scopus citations


Social spiders build communal nests and capture webs, share food, and care for offspring communally. They do not have distinct castes, nor is there clear evidence for reproductive division of labour. This study examines the possibility of division of labour occurring in non-reproductive tasks in colonies of the social spider Achaearanea wau (Theridiidae). Observations of marked individuals and of activities in colonies over the entire life cycle demonstrate that (1) there is no clear division of labour among adult females and (2) juveniles add tasks to their repertoire of activities as they mature. The lack of a clear separation of tasks by different individuals in a colony raises the question: What constrains the evolution of division of labour in social spiders? Constraints associated with inbreeding and selection favouring rapid colony growth through individual reproduction may explain the lack of both reproductive and non-reproductive division of labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1323
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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