ANALYSIS OF COURTSHIP SUCCESS IN THE FUNNEL-WEB SPIDER AGELENOPSIS APERTA

in Behaviour
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Abstract

Laboratory studies of the funnel-web spider Agelenopsis aperta were conducted to determine the action patterns displayed by males and females during courtship, and to identify the elements of courtship associated with subsequent acceptance by the female. When placed on a female's web, a male usually went through a courtship sequence that included lateral swaying of his abdomen and flexing the web with his walking legs. These displays were punctuated with rest periods of varying duration. In all successful matings, females entered a cataleptic state in which they collapsed and appeared unconscious. In some courtships, males began mating with the female immediately after inducing catalepsis. But in most successful courtships (79%) males abandoned the cataleptic female and resumed the courtship sequence. Successful males were more active than unsuccessful males during the early stages of courtship. Successful males also tended to sway their abdomens with higher frequency than unsuccessful males during the courtship dance. We hypothesize that females are selecting males on the basis of vibratory performance during courtship, but that other factors, including chemical communication, may also play a role in mate selection.

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