Skyler Carrel is a junior double majoring in biology and psychology. "My interest is understanding neurological functions behind behaviors," he states. "My goal is to go on to graduate school aspiring to have a career in research along with being a professor." In addition, Skyler's hobbies are reading, hiking, and learning about and discussing new discoveries in science.
He works with Dr. Davis in the Eco-Physiology lab. "My particular research in the lab is studying the social behavior of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches," says Skyler. "The experience I’ve gained in the lab will be applied to my project in Peru. The project I will be doing in Peru will be studying social spiders and their social recognition of other spiders from their same colony along with different colonies."
Unlike most spiders, Anelosimus eximius is a social species. In other words, these particular spiders live communally. Anelosimus eximius function much like a pack of wolves or lions; they sleep together, hunt together, and thrive together. In turn, due to the large numbers that live with each other in a single colony there is a high rate of inbreeding. With this in mind, in my proposed experiment I will be testing the relationship of relatedness and familiarity. This will be tested by placing two spiders from the same colony and measuring the distance from each other to measure the preference. The same process is repeated for two spiders from different colonies. These two processes determine the familiarity of the spiders. We hypothesize that spiders will prefer to be closer to conspecifics from the same colony while avoiding those from different colonies, regardless of the distance between the colonies. Learning about the social behavior of Anelosimus eximius allows us to better understand the evolution of sociality and how relatedness and familiarity interact.