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Coastal Georgia libero overcoming obstacles
Posted 10/14/2014 12:00AM

Brunswick, GA – Dr. C. Tate Holbrook, Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Natural Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, had two papers accepted for publication this academic year, both involving research collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Our research shows how personality differences among spiders can contribute to their division of labor in colonies. When aggressive and docile individuals share a web, they tend to specialize on the jobs they are best at, such as capturing prey or caring for the young. This appears to give colonies with a mix of personality types an advantage over groups composed of just one type,” Dr. Holbrook explained.

He served as first and corresponding author of “Individual variation in personality and plasticity facilitates division of labour in social spider colonies” with co-authors Colin M Wright, a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Jonathan N. Pruitt, Assistant Professor of Biology at Pitt. The article was published this month in Animal Behaviour (97:177-183). Click to view an abstract:

A previous article by the trio, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this summer received international coverage in publications and digital media as diverse as BBC and National Geographic to Delhi Daily News and News Tonight Africa. Click on this link for a sample of the coverage:

An abstract of “Animal personality aligns task specialization and task proficiency in a spider society” by Wright, Dr. Holbrook and Dr. Pruitt (PNAS 111[26]:9533-9537) can be viewed here:

Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia in 2013, Dr. Holbrook served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Lynchburg College in Virginia for two years. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from Arizona State University and graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.S. in Biology, concentration in ecology and evolution.  His primary research area is the behavioral ecology and sociobiology of insects, with a recent foray into social spiders.

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