UV-Green Iridescence Predicts Male Quality during Jumping Spider Contests

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Abstract

Animal colour signals used in intraspecies communications can generally be attributed to a composite effect of structural and pigmentary colours. Notably, the functional role of iridescent coloration that is 'purely' structural (i.e., absence of pigments) is poorly understood. Recent studies reveal that iridescent colorations can reliably indicate individual quality, but evidence of iridescence as a pure structural coloration indicative of male quality during contests and relating to an individual's resource-holding potential (RHP) is lacking. In age- and size-controlled pairwise male-male contests that escalate from visual displays of aggression to more costly physical fights, we demonstrate that the ultraviolet-green iridescence of Cosmophasis umbratica predicts individual persistence and relates to RHP. Contest initiating males exhibited significantly narrower carapace band separation (i.e., relative spectral positions of UV and green hues) than non-initiators. Asymmetries in carapace and abdomen brightness influenced overall contest duration and escalation. As losers retreated upon having reached their own persistence limits in contests that escalated to physical fights, losers with narrower carapace band separation were significantly more persistence. We propose that the carapace UV-green iridescence of C. umbratica predicts individual persistence and is indicative of a male's RHP. As the observed UV-green hues of C. umbratica are 'pure' optical products of a multilayer reflector system, we suggest that intrasexual variations in the optical properties of the scales' chitin-air-chitin microstructures are responsible for the observed differences in carapace band separations.

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Lim, M. L. M., & Li, D. (2013). UV-Green Iridescence Predicts Male Quality during Jumping Spider Contests. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059774

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