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Evolutionary Ecology of Social and Sexual SystemsCrustaceans as Model Organisms$
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J. Emmett Duffy and Martin Thiel

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179927.001.0001

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Ecology and Evolution of Eusociality in Sponge-Dwelling Shrimp

Ecology and Evolution of Eusociality in Sponge-Dwelling Shrimp

(p.387) 18 Ecology and Evolution of Eusociality in Sponge-Dwelling Shrimp
Evolutionary Ecology of Social and Sexual Systems

J. Emmett Duffy

Oxford University Press

Sponge-dwelling Synalpheus shrimp comprises a clade of ~30 species that range from socially monogamous pairs to eusocial colonies of hundreds of individuals. Eusocial colonies have evolved at least three times independently within Synalpheus, and contain multiple cohabiting generations, with one or a few breeders of each sex, and non-breeders that defend the colony from intruders. Comparison of sponge-dwelling shrimp with other animal taxa reveals several shared characteristics of life history and ecology suggested to promote cooperative breeding and eusociality in insects and vertebrates: (i) direct development resulting in limited dispersal and kin association; (ii) specialization on a valuable, self-contained, and long-lived resource; (iii) strong competition for the host resource; and (iv) possession of a weapon (the snapping claw) effective in monopolizing it. Coincidence of these characteristics is rare within Crustacea and may explain why Synalpheus includes the only known eusocial marine animals.

Keywords:   cooperation, defense, resource monopolization, dispersal, kin association

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