Mating behaviour in the cellar spider, Pholcus phalangioides, indicates sperm mixing

  • Uhl G
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Abstract

In insects and spiders, the pattern of sperm priority is often attributed to the shape of the spermathecae and should entail marked consequences for mating behaviour. Since last-male priority is assumed to occur in haplogyne spiders such as the cellar spider, females of this species are predicted to be more attractive to males shortly before, than shortly after, egg laying and males may guard females after copulation until oviposition. To test these predictions, I individually marked spiders of a natural population and recorded their position and the distance between potential mating partners twice a day over 100 days. The distance between female and male was taken as a measure of the female's attractiveness. The behaviour of cellar spider males was not in accordance with the predictions; females were visited throughout the observation period with no significant increase in attractiveness before egg laying and there was no evidence for mate guarding. However, female attractiveness was correlated with female size, which was correlated with the number of eggs laid. Behaviour and genital morphology suggest sperm mixing occurs in this species. This is discussed in the light of conflicting data on sperm priority.

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Authors

  • Gabriele Uhl

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