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10 November 2021 Mating in the Cold: Seasonal Temperature Variability Affects Mating Behaviors of the Wolf Spider (Rabidosa punctulata)
Dustin J. Wilgers
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Temperature affects nearly all of life's processes. Ectothermic animals living in temperate regions are subjected to dramatic daily shifts in temperature that force them to adapt in a variety of ways. The Dotted Wolf Spider (Rabidosa punctulata) mates during fall, which leaves this species vulnerable to temperature swings that can impact their reproductive success. In this study, we manipulated temperature in a controlled laboratory experiment to examine how the mating behaviors of both sexes of R. punctulata are affected in cold (4.4°C) and warm (26.74°C) environments. Overall, the species seems well acclimated to colder environments. While these spiders were slower to begin moving in the cold, they spent an equal percentage of the trial in motion across both temperature treatments. Males were less likely to adopt any mating behaviors in the cold, and overall pairs were significantly less likely to mate in the cold. However, males were able to successfully mount and at least two males were able to copulate in the near freezing temperatures. Directly mounting females without prior courtship was the most successful mating tactic regardless of temperature, and there was a trend suggesting males were more likely to forgo courtship and use direct mounting when interacting with females in the cold. This study highlights the amazing flexibility in reproductive tactics that enable mating success in R. punctulata despite experiencing cold temperatures in their fall mating season.

Dustin J. Wilgers "Mating in the Cold: Seasonal Temperature Variability Affects Mating Behaviors of the Wolf Spider (Rabidosa punctulata)," Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 124(3-4), 183-193, (10 November 2021).
Published: 10 November 2021
mating tactic
Thermal ecology
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