Be it soil, rock or wood, spiders can change tactics to attract mates

January 25th, 2011 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 25 (ANI): A new study has shown that when courting, spiders can modify their mating strategy depending on the environmental surface (soil, rock, wood, leaves) to attract the female spiders.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati showed that male Schizocosa ocreata wolf spiders adjust the modes of their signalling (vibrations vs. visual cues) depending on the habitat.

In the study, it was seen that males signalling via vibrations on leaf litter were more than twice as successful in inducing females to mate as were males signalling via vibrations on other substrates.

Those on other substrates attracted a mate less than 30 percent of the time.

“Importantly, this indicates that the spiders likely recognized the difference between habitats and the efficacy of signaling via vibrations on leaf litter,” said Shira Gordon.

The males send out these signals via body bounces and stridulation (rubbing opposing parts of special “file and scraper” organs) on these environmental surface substrates.

George Uetz, UC professor of biology, said, “When the seismic signals aren’t working due to the environment, male wolf spiders have the ability to vary their signals and shift to another communications mode. They then put more effort into another channel, this being visual cues, in order to get the desired response. We can think of it as going to plan B.”

“These findings suggest that invertebrates have more ability to modify their behavior than has been traditionally thought to be the case. This ability enables them to compensate for the impact that an animal’s environment has on its ability to communicate.”

The research is published in the February 2011 issue of Animal Behaviour. (ANI)

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