The ambient temperature of an environment has potential to influence many aspects of the behavior and physiology of small-bodied ectotherms, including brush-legged wolf spiders Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz, 1844) (Araneae: Lycosidae). Temperature varies significantly, and often unpredictably, in their habitat throughout the spring breeding season, and is known to influence male Schizocosa courtship behavior. Currently unknown is what effect fluctuations in ambient temperature alone might have on critical, non-behavioral sexual signals such as female silk and chemical cues. We collected cues from mature, virgin females and subjected each sample to one of three thermal treatments (40°C, 20°C, or -12°C), at constant humidity. We presented treated female cues to mature males and recorded male response across treatment types as a behavioral indicator of signal degradation. There were no significant differences across treatments in the frequency or duration of male behaviors, including critical courtship and exploratory behaviors. Our results suggest that thermally induced degradation of female sexual signals is negligible for this species and likely has little or no influence on male behavior.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3