Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Mixed-species aggregations in arthropods

Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article



Julien Boulay, Cindy Aubernon, Graeme D. Ruxton, Valéry Hédouin, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Damien Charabidzé

School/Research organisations


This review offers the first synthesis of the research on mixed-species groupings of arthropods and highlights the behavioural and evolutionary questions raised by such behaviour. Mixed-species groups are commonly found in mammals and birds. Such groups are also observed in a large range of arthropod taxa independent of their level of sociality. Several examples are presented to highlight the mechanisms underlying such groupings, particularly the evidence for phylogenetic proximity between members that promotes cross-species recognition. The advantages offered by such aggregates are described and discussed. These advantages can be attributed to the increase in group size and could be identical to those of non-mixed groupings, but competition-cooperation dynamics might also be involved, and such effects may differ between homo- and heterospecific groups. We discuss three extreme cases of interspecific recognition that are likely involved in mixed-species groups as vectors for cross-species aggregation: tolerance behaviour between two social species, one-way mechanism in which one species is attractive to others and two-way mechanism of mutual attraction. As shown in this review, the study of mixed-species groups offers biologists an interesting way to explore the frontiers of cooperation-competition, including the process of sympatric speciation.


Original languageEnglish
JournalInsect Science
VolumeEarly View
Early online date5 Oct 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2017

    Research areas

  • Collective behaviour, Complex system, Cross-species recognition, Self-organization, Sociality

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Intragroup and intragenomic conflict over chemical defence against predators

    Best, R., Ruxton, G. D. & Gardner, A. 19 Feb 2018 In : Ecology and Evolution. Early View, 8 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. A review of thanatosis (death feigning) as an anti-predator behaviour

    Humphreys, R. K. & Ruxton, G. D. Feb 2018 In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72, 16 p., 22

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article

  3. Consequences of grouped data for testing for departure from circular uniformity

    Humphreys, R. K. & Ruxton, G. D. Nov 2017 In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 71, 7 p., 167

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  4. A continued role for signalling functions in the early evolution of feathers

    Ruxton, G. D., Persons IV, W. S. & Currie, P. J. Mar 2017 In : Evolution. 71, 3, p. 797-799 3 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

ID: 250361766