The researcher, McMaster University’s Jonathan Pruitt, is accused of spinning a web of deceit, cutting and pasting a lot of research data about spidey thoughts instead of studying different spiders:
His research looks at how different personalities form within communities of social spider species that live in groups, and it has implications for emerging ideas on how animal behaviours evolve in the context of their environment…
He has published several high-profile studies, such as one in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)3 and one in Nature4 that addresses a contentious debate about group selection in evolution. Researchers have questioned the data in both. A retraction has been requested by Pruitt’s co-authors on the PNAS paper, with Pruitt’s approval; a representative of Nature says that the journal has been notified about the questionable data and is looking into it. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its journal team.) Giuliana Viglione, “‘Avalanche’ of spider-paper retractions shakes behavioural-ecology community” at Nature
The retractions are thought to deal a blow to behavioral ecology. It will be interesting to see what impact the retractions have on claims about the evolution of animal behavior.
See also: Group selection: Could we all get together and evolve as a group?