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Ecology: Spider biology

When male nursery web spiders go a-courting, they always bring a gift wrapped in silk with them. A new study shows that the attractiveness of the present plays a larger role in determining mating success than previously thought.


Excerpt from LMU press release of March 1, 2018:

Never mind the wrapping

One of the central features of courtship behavior in the nursery-web spider (Pisaura mirabilis) is that the male must have a gift on hand in order to make a good impression on the females. So before setting out to look for a mate, the male spider traps a prey insect and wraps it festively in silk threads ready for presentation. If accepted, the food parcel is consumed by the female during mating. A new study carried out by LMU biologist Cristina Tuni reveals that successful mating depends solely on the quality of the gift, as the female does not react to any sex chemicals (pheromones) present in the male‘s silk. – This is rather surprising, in light of the fact that chemical communication via volatile or tactile pheromones is such a widespread feature of mating and reproductive behavior in the animal world. The new study appears in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2018.

LMU press release