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1 July 2001 Leg Autotomy in the Wolf Spider Pardosa milvina: A Common Phenomenon with Few Apparent Costs
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A number of animals escape predation by sacrificing a body part. Spiders commonly lose legs in encounters with predators or conspecifics. We investigated the frequency of leg loss and its affect on locomotion and prey capture activities of the wolf spider, Pardosa milvina (Araneae; Lycosidae). In addition, we determined if Pardosa were easier to subdue by the larger wolf spider predator, Hogna helluo (Araneae; Lycosidae), once they had experienced leg loss. A field census demonstrated that Pardosa autotomized members of all pairs of legs with equal frequency but overall leg loss was high and increased significantly late in the season. Laboratory experiments revealed that leg loss had no effect on locomotory behavior or prey capture. However, injured spiders tended to take smaller prey. The ability of Hogna, to attack and subdue 7 or 8-legged Pardosa was not different, although 8-legged Pardosa tended to lose multiple legs as they were killed whereas 7-legged Pardosa only lost one. These data suggest that the costs of autotomizing one leg are marginal for Pardosa females and, thus, support the “spare leg hypothesis” that has been proposed for other arachnids.
MICHAEL A. BRUESEKE, ANN L. RYPSTRA, SEAN E. WALKER and MATTHEW H. PERSONS "Leg Autotomy in the Wolf Spider Pardosa milvina: A Common Phenomenon with Few Apparent Costs," The American Midland Naturalist 146(1), (1 July 2001).[0153:LAITWS]2.0.CO;2
Received: 21 June 2000; Accepted: 1 March 2001; Published: 1 July 2001

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