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Meek male and fighting female scorpions

Date:
May 28, 2014
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
Threatened female bark scorpions sting quicker than males, likely to compensate for reduced ability to flee the threat. Differences between male and female scorpion bodies and behavior may result from sexual or environmental pressures. For example, female bark scorpions are pregnant 80% of the year, and as a result, may deal with threats differently than males.

This image depicts a male striped bark scorpion (Centruroides vittatus).
Credit: Matthew Rowe, co-author of this PLOS ONE article; CCAL

Threatened female bark scorpions sting quicker than males, likely to compensate for reduced ability to flee the threat, according to results published May 28, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Bradley Carlson from Pennsylvania State University and colleagues.

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Differences between male and female scorpion bodies and behavior may result from sexual or environmental pressures. For example, female bark scorpions are pregnant 80% of the year, and as a result, may deal with threats differently than males. To investigate this further, scientists tested the effects of sex and body shape on stinging and sprinting ability, and then evaluated the differences in aggression between the sexes in response to simulated threats.

Scientists found that female scorpions exhibit poor sprinting ability-likely due to their higher body mass while pregnant-and appear to compensate by rapidly stinging in both the sting speed and aggression trials. In fact, every female stung at least once during the sting speed trials, while only 64% of males did. On the other hand, male bark scorpions had longer legs and superior sprinting ability, which they probably use to evade predators and find a mate.

Bradley Carlson added, "Heavy scorpions are apparently more aggressive because they have a hard time escaping danger. The weight difference between males and the usually pregnant females seems to explain why they choose different options in a fight-or-flight situation."


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


Journal Reference:

  1. Bradley E. Carlson, Shannen McGinley, Matthew P. Rowe. Meek Males and Fighting Females: Sexually-Dimorphic Antipredator Behavior and Locomotor Performance Is Explained by Morphology in Bark Scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (5): e97648 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097648

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Meek male and fighting female scorpions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528180224.htm>.
PLOS. (2014, May 28). Meek male and fighting female scorpions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528180224.htm
PLOS. "Meek male and fighting female scorpions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528180224.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

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