séminaire du PEV – vendredi 14 février 2014

The early evolution of social life: insights from earwig family life

Joel Meunier, Institute of Zoology, Dept. of Evolutionary Biology, Mainz University - Germany

vendredi 14 février 2014 à 11 heures, amphi Monge



The 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 non-derived social systems, such as animal families where offspring are mobile, able to disperse and 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. In addition, family life is generally associated with increased risks of pathogen infection, so that family members are expected to develop mechanisms helping individuals to fight against such threats. Using the European earwig, Forficula auricularia, as model species, I will demonstrate that (1) sibling interactions not only result in competition, but also reflect cooperative behaviors in the form of food sharing and that (2) early maternal care can provide key long-term benefits to offspring by shaping their constitutive immunity.