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Venom and Social Behavior: The Potential of Using Spiders to Evaluate the Evolution of Sociality under High Risk

Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 April 2021 / Revised: 13 May 2021 / Accepted: 25 May 2021 / Published: 28 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Behavioral Ecology of Venom)
Risks of sociality, including competition and conspecific aggression, are particularly pronounced in venomous invertebrates such as arachnids. Spiders show a wide range of sociality, with differing levels of cannibalism and other types of social aggression. To have the greatest chance of surviving interactions with conspecifics, spiders must learn to assess and respond to risk. One of the major ways risk assessment is studied in spiders is via venom metering, in which spiders choose how much venom to use based on prey and predator characteristics. While venom metering in response to prey acquisition and predator defense is well-studied, less is known about its use in conspecific interactions. Here we argue that due to the wide range of both sociality and venom found in spiders, they are poised to be an excellent system for testing questions regarding whether and how venom use relates to the evolution of social behavior and, in return, whether social behavior influences venom use and evolution. We focus primarily on the widow spiders, Latrodectus, as a strong model for testing these hypotheses. Given that successful responses to risk are vital for maintaining sociality, comparative analysis of spider taxa in which venom metering and sociality vary can provide valuable insights into the evolution and maintenance of social behavior under risk. View Full-Text
Keywords: arachnid; cannibalism; Latrodectus; learning; risk assessment; social risk; venom arachnid; cannibalism; Latrodectus; learning; risk assessment; social risk; venom
MDPI and ACS Style

Gatchoff, L.; Stein, L.R. Venom and Social Behavior: The Potential of Using Spiders to Evaluate the Evolution of Sociality under High Risk. Toxins 2021, 13, 388. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13060388

AMA Style

Gatchoff L, Stein LR. Venom and Social Behavior: The Potential of Using Spiders to Evaluate the Evolution of Sociality under High Risk. Toxins. 2021; 13(6):388. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13060388

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gatchoff, Laura, and Laura R. Stein 2021. "Venom and Social Behavior: The Potential of Using Spiders to Evaluate the Evolution of Sociality under High Risk" Toxins 13, no. 6: 388. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13060388

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