Alternative mating tactics are often expressed differentially based on a variety of factors associated with each mating context in order to maximize a male's reproductive success. In particular, males of many species attempt to reduce competition with males in the surrounding environment by altering their mating behaviors. In the wolf spider Rabidosa punctulata (Hentz, 1844), males exhibit two distinct mating tactics: 1) courtship—comprised of visual and seismic signals or 2) direct mount—involving males grappling with females for copulation. In natural environments, these spiders are relatively dense. Competing males are often close by and could potentially intercept courtship displays, locate the nearby female and steal the copulation. Here we investigate whether males adjust their mating tactic expression in response to indirect and directly competing males, and whether these decisions affect their likelihood to copulate. In both experiments, the actions of a competing male did not affect the expression of any male mating behaviors in the other, suggesting a lack of an effect of scramble competition on tactic expression. Evidence from our triad mating experiment suggests a mating advantage for males that adopt the direct mount tactic when in direct competition with other males. In particular, direct mounts were most successful when multiple males were actively pursuing a female and when adopted first among the competitors. Additionally, we observed direct male mating interference whereby the copulating pair was broken up. Following these breakups, females were observed to mate multiply, often as a result of a direct mount. This new observation may provide a context in which males benefit through additional copulations by adopting the direct mount tactic.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3