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1 August 2016 Influence of predator cues on terminal investment in courtship by male Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz, 1844) wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae)
Benjamin Nickley, Diana Saintignon, J. Andrew Roberts
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Sexual signals play a critical role in mate attraction, but fitness benefits of signal production depend on a number of external and internal influences. Sexual signaling can be energetically expensive, and has potential to attract unwanted attention from predators. Male brushlegged wolf spiders, Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz, 1844) (Araneae: Lycosidae), actively signal to females in the leaf litter habitat during their spring breeding season, but face a tradeoff between current and future reproduction as the season progresses. The terminal investment hypothesis predicts that with fewer available females, increasing risk of predation, and stronger influence of senescence as the season progresses, males should take greater risks to secure mating. We explored this idea by exposing males of increasing ages to female cues alone or female cues combined with predator cues. We found little or no direct evidence to support the terminal investment hypothesis in this species, in that males across all ages essentially ceased active courtship in the presence of predator cues, that is, there was no age related increase in courtship investment in the presence of predator cues. However, we found distinct evidence of senescence in males based on age-related changes in behavior, which has not previously been directly explored in this species. While males maintained similar levels of active courtship across all age classes (in the absence of predator cues), older males increased their relative investment in maintenance behaviors (grooming) and decreased non-courtship display behaviors such as tapping and leg raises. These findings suggest that studies of male behavior in this species should be carefully designed to control for age-related variation in behavioral response.

Benjamin Nickley, Diana Saintignon, and J. Andrew Roberts "Influence of predator cues on terminal investment in courtship by male Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz, 1844) wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae)," The Journal of Arachnology 44(2), 176-181, (1 August 2016).
Received: 2 September 2015; Published: 1 August 2016

age effects
chemical cues
context dependence
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