Your PDF has successfully downloaded.

You may be interested in finding more content on these topics:


You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:


Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

Sibling Cooperation in Earwig Families Provides Insights into the Early Evolution of Social Life

Joachim Falk, Janine W. Y. Wong, Mathias Kölliker and Joël Meunier
The American Naturalist
Vol. 183, No. 4 (April 2014), pp. 547-557
DOI: 10.1086/675364
Stable URL:
Page Count: 11

You can always find the topics here!

Topics: Nymphs, Siblings, Frass, Food, Trophallaxis, Mothers, Food security, Cooperation, Social life, Starvation
Were these topics helpful?
See something inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

  • Download PDF
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
We're having trouble loading this content. Download PDF instead.


AbstractThe evolutionary transition from solitary to social life is driven by direct and indirect fitness benefits of social interactions. Understanding the conditions promoting the early evolution of social life therefore requires identification of these benefits in nonderived social systems, such as animal families where offspring are mobile and able to disperse and will survive independently. Family life is well known to provide benefits to offspring through parental care, but research on sibling interactions generally focused on fitness costs to offspring due to competitive behaviors. Here we show experimentally that sibling interactions also reflect cooperative behaviors in the form of food sharing in nonderived families of the European earwig, Forficula auricularia. Food ingested by individual offspring was transferred to their siblings through mouth-to-anus contacts and active allo-coprophagy. These transfers occurred in both the presence and the absence of the tending mothers, even though the direct contact with the mothers limited sibling food sharing. Neither food deprivation or relatedness influenced the total amount of transferred food, but relatedness affected frass release and the behavioral mechanisms mediating food sharing. Related offspring obtained food predominately through allo-coprophagy, whereas unrelated offspring obtained food through mouth-to-anus contacts. Overall, this study emphasizes that sibling cooperation may be a key process promoting the early evolution of social life.

Notes and References

This item contains 61 references.

Literature Cited
  • ['Albouy, V., and C. Caussanel. 1990. Régimes alimentaires. Pages 65–71 in Dermaptères ou perce-oreilles. Fédération Francaise des Sociétés de Sciences Naturelles, Paris.']
  • ['Alonso-Alvarez, C., and A. Velando. 2012. Benefits and costs of parental care. Pages 40–61 in N. J. Royle, P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds. The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Anderson, D. J., and R. E. Ricklefs. 1995. Evidence of kin-selected tolerance by nestlings in a siblicidal bird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 37:163–168.']
  • ['Bell, M. B. V. 2007. Cooperative begging in banded mongoose pups. Current Biology 17:717–721.']
  • ['Biedermann, P. H. W., and M. Taborsky. 2011. Larval helpers and age polytheism in ambrosia beetles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108:17064–17069.']
  • ['Bignell, D. E. 2011. Morphology, physiology, biochemistry and functional design of the termite gut: an evolutionary wonderland. Pages 413–438 in D. E. Bignell, Y. Roisin, and N. Lo, eds. Biology of termites. Springer, New York.']
  • ['Bourke, A. F. G. 2011. Principles of social evolution. Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Bulmer, E., P. Celis, and D. Gil. 2007. Parent-absent begging: evidence for sibling honesty and cooperation in the spotless starling (Sturnus unicolor). Behavioral Ecology 19:279–284.']
  • ['Cant, M. A. 2012. Cooperative breeding systems. Pages 206–220 in N. J. Royle, P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds., The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Costa, J. T. 2006a. The other insect societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.']
  • ['———. 2006b. Dermaptera: earwig mothers. Pages 49–80 in The other insect societies. Belknap, Cambridge, MA.']
  • ['Dial, T. R., and D. R. Carrier. 2012. Precocial hindlimbs and altricial forelimbs: partitioning ontogenetic strategies in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Journal of Experimental Biology 215:3703–3710.']
  • ['Diggle, S. P., A. S. Griffin, G. S. Campbell, and S. A. West. 2007. Cooperation and conflict in quorum-sensing bacterial populations. Nature 450:411–414.']
  • ['Dobler, R., and M. Kölliker. 2010. Kin-selected siblicide and cannibalism in the European earwig. Behavioral Ecology 21:257–263.']
  • ['———. 2011. Influence of weight asymmetry and kinship on siblicidal and cannibalistic behaviour in earwigs. Animal Behaviour 82:667–672.']
  • ['Dreiss, A. N., N. Lahlah, and A. Roulin. 2010. How siblings adjust sib-sib communication and begging signals to each other. Animal Behaviour 80:1049–1055.']
  • ['Dreiss, A. N., C. A. Ruppli, F. Oberli, S. Antoniazza, I. Henry, and A. Roulin. 2013. Barn owls do not interrupt their siblings. Animal Behaviour 86:119–126.']
  • ['East, M. L., and H. Hofer. 2010. Social environments, social tactics and their fitness consequences in complex mammalian societies. Pages 360–390 in T. Székely, A. J. Moore, and J. Komdeur, eds. Social behaviour: genes, ecology and evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.']
  • ['Eisner, T. 1960. Defence mechanisms of arthropods II. The chemical and mechanical weapons of an earwig. Psyche 67:62–70.']
  • ['Forbes, S. 2007. Sibling symbiosis in nestling birds. Auk 124:1–10.']
  • ['Griffin, A. S., S. A. West, and A. Buckling. 2004. Cooperation and competition in pathogenic bacteria. Nature 430:2–5.']
  • ['Gross, M. R. 2005. The evolution of parental care. Quarterly Review of Biology 80:37–45.']
  • ['Hamilton, W. D. 1964. The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:1–16.']
  • ['Hatchwell, B., and J. Komdeur. 2000. Ecological constraints, life history traits and the evolution of cooperative breeding. Animal Behaviour 59:1079–1086.']
  • ['Johnstone, R. A. 2004. Begging and sibling competition: how should offspring respond to their rivals? American Naturalist 163:388–406.']
  • ['Johnstone, R. A., and A. Roulin. 2003. Sibling negotiation. Behavioral Ecology 14:780–786.']
  • ['Kölliker, M. 2007. Benefits and costs of earwig (Forficula auricularia) family life. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 61:1489–1497.']
  • ['Kölliker, M., and M. Vancassel. 2007. Maternal attendance and the maintenance of family groups in common earwigs (Forficula auricularia): a field experiment. Ecological Entomology 32:24–27.']
  • ['Krause, J., and G. D. Ruxton. 2002. The benefits of group formation. Pages 6–40 in Living in groups. Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Lamb, R. J. 1976. Parental behavior in the dermaptera with special reference to Forficula auricularia (Dermaptera: Forficulidae). Canadian Journal of Entomology 108:609–619.']
  • ['Martin, M. M., and C. A. Reddy. 1984. Role of mycophagy and bacteriophagy in invertebrate nutrition. Pages 257–263 in M. J. Klug and C. A. Reddy, eds. Current perspectives in microbial ecology. American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC.']
  • ['Mas, F., and M. Kölliker. 2011. Differential effects of offspring condition-dependent signals on maternal care regulation in the European earwig. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65:341–349.']
  • ['Mathevon, N., and I. Charrier. 2004. Parent-offspring conflict and the coordination of siblings in gulls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 27:145–147.']
  • ['Meunier, J., L. Delaplace, and M. Chapuisat. 2010. Reproductive conflicts and egg discrimination in a socially polymorphic ant. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64:1655–1663.']
  • ['Meunier, J., and M. Kölliker. 2012a. Parental antagonism and parent-offspring co-adaptation interact to shape family life. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279:3981–3988.']
  • ['———. 2012b. When it is costly to have a caring mother: food limitation erases the benefits of parental care in earwigs. Biology Letters 8:547–550.']
  • ['———. 2013. Inbreeding depression in an insect with maternal care: influences of family interactions, life stage and offspring sex. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26:2209–2220.']
  • ['Meunier, J., J. W. Y. Wong, Y. Gómez, S. Kuttler, L. Röllin, D. Stucki, and M. Kölliker. 2012. One clutch or two clutches? fitness correlates of coexisting alternative female life-histories in the European earwig. Evolutionary Ecology 26:669–682.']
  • ['Mock, D. W., and G. A. Parker. 1997. The evolution of sibling rivalry. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Nalepa, C. A., and W. J. Bell. 1997. Postovulation parental investment and parental care in cockroaches. Pages 26–51 in J. C. Choe and B. J. Crespi, eds. The evolution of social behavior in insects and arachnids. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.']
  • ['Nalepa, C. A., D. E. Bignell, and C. Bandi. 2001. Detritivory, coprophagy, and the evolution of digestive mutualisms in Dictyoptera. Insectes Sociaux 48:194–201.']
  • ['Pellens, R., C. A. D’Haese, X. Bellés, M.-D. Piulachs, F. Legendre, W. C. Wheeler, and P. Grandcolas. 2007. The evolutionary transition from subsocial to eusocial behaviour in Dictyoptera: phylogenetic evidence for modification of the “shift-in-dependent-care” hypothesis with a new subsocial cockroach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43:616–626.']
  • ['Ratnieks, F. L. W., K. R. Foster, and T. Wenseleers. 2006. Conflict resolution in insect societies. Annual Review of Entomology 51:581–608.']
  • ['Rehling, A., and F. Trillmich. 2007. Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): who decides and by what measure? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62:149–157.']
  • ['Roulin, A. 2002. The sibling negotiation hypothesis. Pages 107–127 in The evolution of begging: competition, cooperation and communication. Kluwer, Dordrecht.']
  • ['Roulin, A., A. Da Silva, C. A. Ruppli, and A. Da. 2012. Dominant nestlings displaying female-like melanin coloration behave altruistically in the barn owl. Animal Behaviour 84:1229–1236.']
  • ['Roulin, A., and A. N. Dreiss. 2012. Sibling competition and cooperation over parental care. Pages 133–149 in N. J. Royle, P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds. The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Roulin, A., M. Kölliker, and H. Richner. 2000. Barn owl (Tyto alba) siblings vocally negotiate resources. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 267:459–463.']
  • ['Royle, N. J., P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds. 2012. The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Schmid-Hempel, P. 1998. Parasites in social insects. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.']
  • ['Smiseth, P. T., C. T. Darwell, and A. J. Moore. 2003. Partial begging: an empirical model for the early evolution of offspring signalling. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 270:1773–1777.']
  • ['Smiseth, P. T., M. Kölliker, and N. J. Royle. 2012. What is parental care? Pages 1–20 in Royle, N. J., P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds.The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Staerkle, M., and M. Kölliker. 2008. Maternal food regurgitation to nymphs in earwigs (Forficula auricularia). Ethology 114:844–850.']
  • ['Trumbo, S. T. 2012. Patterns of parental care in invertebrates. Pages 81–100 in N. J. Royle, P. T. Smiseth, and M. Kölliker, eds. The evolution of parental care. Oxford University Press, Oxford.']
  • ['Weiss, M. R. 2006. Defecation behavior and ecology of insects. Annual Review of Entomology 51:635–661.']
  • ['West, S. A., I. Pen, and A. S. Griffin. 2002. Cooperation and competition between relatives. Science 296:72–75.']
  • ['Wilson, E. O. 1971. The insect societies. Belknap, Cambridge, MA.']
  • ['———. 1975. Sociobiology: the new synthesis. 25th anniversary ed. Belknap, Cambridge, MA.']
  • ['Wong, J. W. Y., and M. Kölliker. 2012. The effect of female condition on maternal care in the European earwig. Ethology 118:450–459.']
  • ['———. 2013. The more the merrier? condition-dependent brood mixing in earwigs. Animal Behaviour 86:845–850.']
  • ['Wong, J. W. Y., J. Meunier, and M. Kölliker. 2013. The evolution of parental care in insects: the roles of ecology, life history and the social environment. Ecological Entomology 38:123–137.']


Part of Sustainability