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Publication - Dr Edmund Hunt

    Resting networks and personality predict attack speed in social spiders


    Hunt, ER, Mi, B, Geremew, R, Fernandez, C, Wong, B, Pruitt, J & Pinter-Wollman, N, 2019, ‘Resting networks and personality predict attack speed in social spiders’. bioRxiv.


    Groups of social predators capture large prey items collectively, and their social interaction patterns may impact how quickly they can respond to time-sensitive predation opportunities. We investigated whether various organizational levels of resting interactions (individual, sub-group, group), observed at different intervals leading up to a collective prey attack, impacted the predation speed of colonies of the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola. We found that in adult spiders overall group connectivity (average degree) increased group attack speed. However, this effect was detected only immediately before the predation event; connectivity two and four days before prey capture had little impact on the collective dynamics. Significantly, lower social proximity of the group's boldest individual to other group members (closeness centrality) immediately prior and two days before prey capture was associated with faster attack speeds. These results suggest that for adult spiders, the long-lasting effects of the boldest individual on the group's attack dynamics are mediated by its role in the social network, and not only by its boldness. This suggests that behavioural traits and social network relationships should be considered together when defining keystone individuals in some contexts. By contrast, for subadult spiders, while the group maximum boldness was negatively correlated with latency to attack, no significant resting network predictors of latency to attack were found. Thus, separate behavioural mechanisms might play distinctive roles in determining collective outcomes at different developmental stages, timescales, and levels of social organization.

    Full details in the University publications repository