On three separate occasions during the growth season four populations of the sheet web spider Linyphia triangularis were sampled, twice as immatures and once as adults. For the immature specimens, five linear size characteristics (length and width of the cephalothorax, length of tibia of the first leg, and length and height of the abdomen) were measured in the laboratory and compared with fresh weight. The best predictor of weight was abdomen length, closely followed by cephalothorax width. Cephalothorax width was used to compare the size of immatures with the adult size at time of maturity because the abdomen shrinks in the non-foraging adult males. Mean cephalothorax width was larger for males than for females in both immature and adult specimens. The difference increased from the earliest immature population samples to the adult samples. The relationship between cephalothorax width and abdomen length was linear and equal between the sexes over all immature samples. This means that there was no difference in the allocation of resources to body parts important to female fecundity (the abdomen) vs. body parts important to male fighting ability (the cephalothorax) between males and females. Selection for large male size thus seems to be greater than selection for large female size in this web-building spider, resulting in an overall faster growth rate in males. Males grow >10% larger than females despite the distinct protandry in this species.
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