Conspecific Attraction and Shelter Selection in Gregarious Insects

Raphaël Jeanson, Deneubourg
2007 American Naturalist  
During habitat selection, the presence of conspecifics can frequently drive a nonuniform distribution of animals across habitats of equivalent quality. In group-living species, subgroups of individuals might display mutual attraction while differing in their preferences for environmental resources. The final decision to settle requires individuals to integrate both environmental and social cues. This raises the question of the relative importance of sociality and resources preferences in
more » ... eferences in determining habitat choice. In this study, we examined the interactive influence of conspecific attraction on individual resource preferences on refuge choice in groups of cockroaches. Shelters scaled to the sizes of nymphs and adult males were offered to groups of only nymphs and only males and to mixed groups. The choices of males were consistent across social conditions. Conversely, the preferences of nymphs shifted depending on the social context; the presence of males overrode the affinity nymphs had for scaled-size shelters. We developed a numerical model implementing parameters derived from these experiments to test whether the final spatial distribution of individuals originated from a differential attraction between nymphs and males that was associated with their relative body size. Finally, we propose a general framework for understanding how similar mechanisms can promote the skewed distribution of organisms at different spatial scales.
doi:10.2307/4541059 fatcat:zcke3kuk2fetzlgqrfc6qskyyq