In mating systems that include semelparous reproduction and/or scramble competition, synchronous maturation of the sexes is vital for success. However, food limitation may alter the onset of maturation or the overall quality of the mature individuals and affect reproductive success. We examined the role of feeding history (well-fed vs. long-term deprivation) on female reproductive timing and its correlation with temporal patterns of receptivity behavior in the wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz, 1844). We found that feeding history influenced developmental time and delayed maturation in long-term food-limited females. There was no significant difference in relative condition between treatments, yet well-fed females showed higher rates of receptivity. Peak receptivity behavior was correlated with the estimated overall mass of female ovaries/eggs, with females that possess larger ovaries and eggs showing more receptive behavior. This supports the hypothesis that while a food-limited female may attain maturity, the limiting factor underlying reproductive success is gonad maturation.
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Vol. 44 • No. 2