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Nuptial gifts and sexual behavior in two species of spider (Araneae, Trechaleidae, Paratrechalea)

by Luiz Ernesto Costa-Schmidt, James Edwin Carico, Aldo Mellender de Araújo
Naturwissenschaften ()

Abstract

Male delivering of a prey packed in silk as a nuptial gift is rare in spiders and restricted until now to Pisauridae. Here, we describe this behavioral pattern found in two Trechaleidae species, Paratrechalea azul Carico 2005, and Paratrechalea ornata (Mello-Leitão 1943), mainly based on field observations. We observed the following steps of sexual behavior: sperm induction, nuptial gift construction, mate searching, pre-copulatory courtship, copulation, and copulatory ending. In this group, a nuptial gift consists of a prey wrapped in silk, which appears as a white rounded shape. The male carries his nuptial gift in his chelicerae while searching for a female. When he finds a female, he shows a stereotyped courting behavior consisting of a hyperflexed posture that is also assumed by the receptive female while they face each other. The copulatory position and pattern is similar to that found in other Lycosoidea: the male mounts the female and makes a total of four palpal insertions while alternating sides. However, after each palpal insertion the male dismounts and returns to a frontal position while biting the gift. Copulatory courtship is evidenced by palpal and leg movements. The copulation ends by female initiative and she almost always retains the nuptial gift. No case of pre-copulatory or post-copulatory cannibalism has been recorded. Descriptions of nuptial gift construction by males and copulation in these species, as well as hypotheses about the origin of nuptial gift construction among spiders, are presented. These descriptions are the first records of such nuptial gift offering for Neotropical spiders and for non-Pisauridae species as well.

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