Insights to the mating strategies of Habronattus americanus jumping spiders from natural behaviour and staged interactions in the wild

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We documented natural behaviour and staged intersexual interactions of Habronattus americanus jumping spiders in the wild in order to clarify three aspects of their mating strategies: (1) Do males invest more than females in locomotory mate search? (2) Do females exert strong mate choice? (3) Do direct contests occur among males? Males apparently invested heavily in mate search, travelling more than females yet eating nothing. Conversely, females frequently hunted and spent 10% of their time feeding. Females encountered one male per hour, likely affording them a high degree of choice among prospective mates. Accordingly, they promoted the termination of each interaction and ultimately rejected nearly all courting males. Male–male interactions were brief and did not feature direct antagonism. Our findings suggest that mate competition in H. americanus is characterized by male scramble competition for dispersed females, and that female mate choice may exert strong selection on male sexual display traits.

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Figures
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    Female and male (a) travel rate and (b) hunting rate. Males travelled at a greater rate than females but showed almost no hunting behaviour, suggesting they invest relatively more than females in the travel component of mate search (a, N=10 females, 27 males; b, 10 females, 22 males).

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    Travel paths (lines) and final locations (points) of males (open circles) and females (filled circles) during 30-min focal watches, illustrating greater movement by males. All paths originate from a common, central point to facilitate comparison (N=10 females, 20 males).

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    Male behavioural outcomes from intersexual interactions (a) occurring naturally at Iona Beach (N=6), and (b) staged at Cordova Spit (N=36). Outcomes at both sights suggest strong male motivation to mate and acute female choosiness. The male action “Terminate” signifies males being the first to promote termination of the interaction (see Results). Error bars denote 95% confidence limits.

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    2005 study area at Iona Beach (solid outline), and surrounding H. americanus habitat (dotted outline).

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