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      The personality types of key catalytic individuals shape colonies' collective behaviour and success

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          Abstract

          Behavioural ecologists often note that one or a few group members appear to shape the collective behaviour of social groups differentially. Our understanding of these keystone individuals is largely taken from meticulous field observations and semi-scientific anecdotes. In this study we experimentally test whether the behavioural tendencies of putative keystone individuals shift the collective behaviour of colonies using the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola. Prior studies on Stegodyphus demonstrated that the single best predictor of colonies' collective behaviour is the behaviour of colonies' boldest individual. Here, we probe the causal relationship between the traits of extremely bold individuals and colonies' collective behaviour by experimentally creating colonies of identical size and personality composition in the laboratory and then adding a single individual of varying boldness (the putative keystone individual). Experimentally adding just one extremely bold individual increased the foraging aggressiveness of entire colonies and altered the total mass gained by fellow group members, relative to the addition of a less bold individual. Additionally, our data suggest that bold individuals are capable of such influence because they catalyse variation in the behavioural tendencies of fellow group members.

          Highlights

          • In the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola, individuals vary in their boldness.

          • Extremely bold individuals influence their groups more than shyer individuals.

          • Colonies with one extreme individual gain more mass and behave more aggressively.

          • The effect of extreme individuals scales positively to their degree of boldness.

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          Most cited references56

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          Ecological implications of behavioural syndromes.

          Interspecific trait variation has long served as a conceptual foundation for our understanding of ecological patterns and dynamics. In particular, ecologists recognise the important role that animal behaviour plays in shaping ecological processes. An emerging area of interest in animal behaviour, the study of behavioural syndromes (animal personalities) considers how limited behavioural plasticity, as well as behavioural correlations affects an individual's fitness in diverse ecological contexts. In this article we explore how insights from the concept and study of behavioural syndromes provide fresh understanding of major issues in population ecology. We identify several general mechanisms for how population ecology phenomena can be influenced by a species or population's average behavioural type, by within-species variation in behavioural type, or by behavioural correlations across time or across ecological contexts. We note, in particular, the importance of behavioural type-dependent dispersal in spatial ecology. We then review recent literature and provide new syntheses for how these general mechanisms produce novel insights on five major issues in population ecology: (1) limits to species' distribution and abundance; (2) species interactions; (3) population dynamics; (4) relative responses to human-induced rapid environmental change; and (5) ecological invasions. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.
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            The principles of collective animal behaviour.

            In recent years, the concept of self-organization has been used to understand collective behaviour of animals. The central tenet of self-organization is that simple repeated interactions between individuals can produce complex adaptive patterns at the level of the group. Inspiration comes from patterns seen in physical systems, such as spiralling chemical waves, which arise without complexity at the level of the individual units of which the system is composed. The suggestion is that biological structures such as termite mounds, ant trail networks and even human crowds can be explained in terms of repeated interactions between the animals and their environment, without invoking individual complexity. Here, I review cases in which the self-organization approach has been successful in explaining collective behaviour of animal groups and societies. Ant pheromone trail networks, aggregation of cockroaches, the applause of opera audiences and the migration of fish schools have all been accurately described in terms of individuals following simple sets of rules. Unlike the simple units composing physical systems, however, animals are themselves complex entities, and other examples of collective behaviour, such as honey bee foraging with its myriad of dance signals and behavioural cues, cannot be fully understood in terms of simple individuals alone. I argue that the key to understanding collective behaviour lies in identifying the principles of the behavioural algorithms followed by individual animals and of how information flows between the animals. These principles, such as positive feedback, response thresholds and individual integrity, are repeatedly observed in very different animal societies. The future of collective behaviour research lies in classifying these principles, establishing the properties they produce at a group level and asking why they have evolved in so many different and distinct natural systems. Ultimately, this research could inform not only our understanding of animal societies, but also the principles by which we organize our own society.
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              Network theory and SARS: predicting outbreak diversity

              Many infectious diseases spread through populations via the networks formed by physical contacts among individuals. The patterns of these contacts tend to be highly heterogeneous. Traditional “compartmental” modeling in epidemiology, however, assumes that population groups are fully mixed, that is, every individual has an equal chance of spreading the disease to every other. Applications of compartmental models to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) resulted in estimates of the fundamental quantity called the basic reproductive number R 0 —the number of new cases of SARS resulting from a single initial case—above one, implying that, without public health intervention, most outbreaks should spark large-scale epidemics. Here we compare these predictions to the early epidemiology of SARS. We apply the methods of contact network epidemiology to illustrate that for a single value of R 0 , any two outbreaks, even in the same setting, may have very different epidemiological outcomes. We offer quantitative insight into the heterogeneity of SARS outbreaks worldwide, and illustrate the utility of this approach for assessing public health strategies.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Anim Behav
                Anim Behav
                Animal Behaviour
                Academic Press
                0003-3472
                0003-3472
                28 May 2014
                July 2014
                28 May 2014
                : 93
                : 87-95
                Affiliations
                [1]Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A.
                Author notes
                []Correspondence: J. N. Pruitt, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 213 Clapp Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, U.S.A. Agelenopsis@ 123456gmail.com
                Article
                S0003-3472(14)00188-2
                10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.04.017
                7119443
                1e0fba2c-c975-4eeb-a2b7-02c7f35d5d3f

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                History
                : 28 January 2014
                : 10 March 2014
                : 2 April 2014
                Categories
                Article

                Animal science & Zoology
                araneae,behavioural syndrome,collective behaviour,keystone individual,personality,spider,stegodyphus dumicola,temperament

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