Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
Discerning males remain faithful...if you are a spider. Sex for male orb web spiders is a two shot affair since the act of mating destroys their genitalia. If they survive being eaten during their first encounter with a female, they have two choices – to mate again with the same female (monogynous) or try to find a new partner (bigynous). New research shows that choice of mating behavior for A. bruennichi depends on the size and age of the first female they mate with.

This shows a cannibalized male orb web spider (Argiope bruennichi) inside the female's web.
Credit: S.M.Zimmer

Discerning males remain faithful...if you are a spider. Sex for male orb web spiders (Argiope bruennichi) is a two shot affair since the act of mating destroys their genitalia. If they survive being eaten during their first encounter with a female, they have two choices -- to mate again with the same female (monogynous) or try to find a new partner (bigynous). New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Frontiers in Zoology shows that choice of mating behavior for A. bruennichi depends on the size and age of the first female they mate with.

Monogamous behavior, such as mating for life, is thought to evolve when paternal protection of the female increases fertilization success. For cannibalistic spiders, monogamy means that the life of the male can be very short indeed. However this can improve chances of fatherhood: males of the black widow spider can increase the duration of mating, and hence the likelihood of successful fertilization, by allowing themselves to be eaten.

Monogamous spiders like A. bruennichi have evolved specialized pedipalps, which are used to transfer sperm into a female's reproductive organs. These specialized genitalia are usually damaged during mating, breaking off inside the female, and forming a plug to prevent subsequent fertilization by a different male. Each male can consequently only mate twice in their entire lives, but, if they survive the first encounter (a female will usually eat the male if mating continues to long) they can then chose to either mate with her again or to find a different female to mate with.

Researchers from the Zoological Institute, University of Hamburg, discovered that the mating strategy of A. bruennichi was not random. Males made mating decisions based on females mating status (virgin or already mated) age, weight, availability of other females, and the time of day.

Klaas Welke explained, "Amongst spiders, regardless of age, heavier females are the most fertile. Males were more likely to mate twice with the same female if it was early in the day, she was heavy, and if the nearest other females were sub-adult. Males kept on searching for a second female if it was late in the day and the first female was light. We found that bigynous males preferred to 'trade up' to heavier females as second mates, but ran the risk of attempting to copulate with already mated females."

Two thirds of the monogamous males were eaten after their first mating. These males, which only managed to mate once, tended to mate with the oldest and heaviest females. Klaas Welke explained, "These females are the ones which have the highest fecundity and which are most ready to lay their eggs. While these males do not have a second chance at mating their probability of reproductive success is high."

Based on paternity of lifetime reproductive success bigyny appeared to be the more successful strategy. Despite this about half of the males were monogamous and half bigynous demonstrating that males alter their behavior to make the best of the situation they find themselves in.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Klaas W Welke, Stefanie M Zimmer, Jutta M Schneider. Conditional monogyny: female quality predicts male faithfulness. Frontiers in Zoology, 2012; 9 (1): 7 DOI: 10.1186/1742-9994-9-7

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424222729.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2012, April 24). Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424222729.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424222729.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins