The evolutionary relevance of social learning and transmission of behaviors in non-social arthropods

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Caroline M. Nieberding, Matteo Marcantonio, Raluca Voda, Thomas Enriquez, Bertanne Visser


Research on social learning has centered around vertebrates, but evidence is accumulating that small-brained, non-social arthropods also learn from others. Social learning can lead to social inheritance when socially acquired behaviors are transmitted to subsequent generations. Here, we first highlight the complementarities between social and classical genetic inheritance, using oviposition site selection, a behavior critical for many non-social arthropods, as a hypothetical example. We then discuss the relevance of studying social learning and transmission in non-social arthropods and document known cases in the literature, including examples of social learning from con and hetero-specifics. We subsequently highlight under which conditions social learning can be adaptive or not. We conclude that non-social arthropods and the study of oviposition behavior offer unparalleled opportunities to increase our understanding of social learning and inheritance.



Behavior and Ethology, Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Entomology, Evolution, Life Sciences


Behavioral plasticity, Communication, Culture, Drosophila, fitness, Herbivores, natural selection, Oviposition site selection, Traditions


Published: 2021-08-05 11:09

Last Updated: 2021-09-16 09:49

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