Current biology : CB | 26 Dec 2017
JN Pruitt, CM Wright, JLL Lichtenstein, GT Chism, BL McEwen, A Kamath and N Pinter-Wollman
Particularly socially influential individuals are present in many groups [1-8], but it is unclear whether their emergence is determined by their social influence versus the social susceptibility of others . The social spider Stegodyphus dumicola shows regional variation in apparent leader-follower dynamics. We use this variation to evaluate the relative contributions of leader social influence versus follower social susceptibility in driving this social order. Using chimeric colonies that combine potential leaders and followers, we discover that leader-follower dynamics emerge from the site-specific social susceptibility of followers. We further show that the presence of leaders increases colony survival in environments where leader-follower dynamics occur. Thus, leadership is driven by the “social susceptibility” of the population majority, rather than the social influence of key group members.
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