In the lycosoid spiders, the secondary eyes possess a grate-shaped tapetum lucidum that reflects light, causing eyeshine when these spiders are viewed with approximately coaxial illumination. This guanine-based reflective surface is thought to increase visual capabilities in low light. We explored the eyeshine of the posterior medial eye in eight taxa of pisaurid and lycosid spiders. The taxa included four pisaurids: Dolomedes tenebrosus Hentz 1844, D. triton (Walckenaer 1837), D. scriptus Hentz 1845 and D. vittatus Walckenaer 1837; and four lycosids: Gladicosa pulchra (Keyserling 1877), Hogna sp. (cf. Lycosa lenta (Hentz 1844) sensu Wallace 1942), Rabidosa punctulata (Hentz 1844) and Varacosa avara (Keyserling 1877). We found that there were significant family- and species-level differences in both the reflected spectra and the intensity of reflection. Although the peaks of the reflected spectra were in the green range for all spiders, the mean peak was further toward the blue end of the spectrum for the lycosids than for the pisaurids. Variation among species (about 54% of the total variation) was dominated by G. pulchra (Lycosidae) and D. vittatus (Pisauridae), both of whose spectra peaked near yellow, vs. V. avara (Lycosidae), whose spectra peaked to the blue side of green. The lycosid spiders showed overall brighter eyeshine. However, when corrected for their larger eyes, the lycosid spiders' reflections were dimmer for their eye size than were those of the pisaurid spiders. These results demonstrate that the reflective qualities of the tapeta, and perhaps the absorptive qualities of other tissues and media that the light must traverse, vary widely among lycosoid spiders. This variation may signal both functional differences in visual capabilities and interesting developmental or selective histories within this clade.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1