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Mating in the harvestman Leiobunum vittatum (Arachnida: Opiliones): from premating struggles to solicitous tactile engagement

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Kasey D. Fowler-Finn aBehavioral and Molecular Ecology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lapham Hall, 3209 N Maryland Avenue, Milwaukee WI, 53201, USA

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Emilia Triana bEscuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio, San José, Costa Rica

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Owen G. Miller aBehavioral and Molecular Ecology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lapham Hall, 3209 N Maryland Avenue, Milwaukee WI, 53201, USA

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When mating interactions are influenced by multiple sources of selection, they may involve multiple stages of mate assessment. At each stage, a different set of morphological and behavioural traits may be important in determining the outcome of the interaction. Here, we test the potential for multiple sources of selection to shape mating interactions in Leiobunum vittatum harvestmen, commonly known as ‘daddy longlegs’. We provide a qualitative and quantitative study of mating interactions, and investigate the influence of multiple morphological traits on each of several distinct stages of their mating interactions. Mating interactions start with a struggle between males and females during which the male attempts to secure the females in a mating embrace. Success at this stage depends on the length of the male’s clasping pedipalps: those with shorter pedipalps (and thus greater mechanical advantage) were more successful. Male size relative to the female determines how quickly males achieve this embrace. Mating interactions then proceed to tactile exchanges between males and females, indicating the potential for mutual mate choice and/or peri- and post-copulatory selection. We found no morphological predictors of the timing of these later stages of the mating interactions, and suggest that the exchange of a nuptial gift is important for the dynamics of these stages. Overall, our results highlight L. vittatum as a potentially highly informative group for studying how traits involved in mating are shaped by the interaction of selection across multiple stages in mating interactions.

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