Big wigs and small wigs: Time, sex, size and shelter affect cohabitation in the maritime earwig (Anisolabis maritima)

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© 2017 Hack, Iyengar. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Animal aggregations can occur for a variety of abiotic factors, such as resource limitation, or biotic factors, including group foraging and protection from predators. In our study, we examined whether time, sex, body size or shelter availability affected aggregation behavior of the maritime earwig, Anisolabis maritima (Order Dermaptera), an insect found globally at high densities under driftwood. Specifically, we monitored the distribution of two individuals in arenas with either two shelters (no habitat limitation) or one shelter (habitat limitation) to determine their propensity for cohabitation at times of peak activity and times of quiescence. Females, whose high levels of aggression are often associated with maternal care, were particularly averse to cohabitation, whereas males were generally more tolerant of other earwigs. Females initially preferred not to cohabitate when placed with a male, but were more tolerant of cohabitation later, regardless of the number of shelters. Same-sex pairs, on the other hand, were less likely to cohabitate with only one shelter present, but males were again more tolerant of conspecifics than females regardless of habitat limitation. When competition for one shelter did not lead to cohabitation, the lone occupant was more likely to be the larger individual in same-sex trials and females in mixed-sex trials. Understanding the tolerance for close proximity under these varying conditions may provide insight into aggregative behavior and spatial distribution patterns in the maritime earwig.




Hack, N. L., & Iyengar, V. K. (2017). Big wigs and small wigs: Time, sex, size and shelter affect cohabitation in the maritime earwig (Anisolabis maritima). PLoS ONE, 12(10).

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