Vibratory courtship in a web-building spider: Signalling quality or stimulating the female?

Alexei A. Maklakov, Trine Bilde, Yael Lubin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    61 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Courtship behaviour in spiders in the form of premating vibrations by males may function (1) as a male identity signal used for species recognition, (2) in suppression of female aggressiveness, (3) to stimulate female mating behaviour, or (4) as a quality signal used in female choice. We investigated the function of web vibration by male Stegodyphus lineatus in a series of experiments. Regardless of vibratory performance, all males mated successfully with virgin females but only 56.4% of males mated with nonvirgin females. Vibratory performance did not influence male mating success, but heavier males had a higher probability of mating with mated females. Males vibrated less often and produced fewer vibrations when introduced on the web of a mated female. Males that vibrated webs of virgin females mated faster than nonvibrating males, but there was no effect of vibration rate or body mass. There was no effect of male vibratory effort or vibration rate on female reproductive success measured as time to egg laying, clutch size, number of hatched young, number of dispersed young and offspring body mass after a single mating. Males vibrated on abandoned virgin female webs but the response decreased with increasing duration of female absence, suggesting that females produce a web-borne pheromone, which elicits male vibrating behaviour. Mated females were less receptive and not stimulated by male vibrating behaviour. We conclude that male premating vibrations in S. lineatus do not function as a male quality signal selected via female choice. Rather, the primary function of this behaviour may be to stimulate a receptive female to mate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)623-630
    Number of pages8
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Volume66
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003

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