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Exploiting a moment of weakness: male spiders escape sexual cannibalism by copulating with moulting females.

Uhl G, Zimmer SM, Renner D, Schneider JM - Sci Rep (2015)

Bottom Line: Copulations with moulting females resulted in 97% male survival compared with only 20% in conventional matings.Mating while moulting provided similar paternity benefits compared with conventional matings.Despite male benefits, natural frequencies were estimated around 44% and directly predicted by a male guarding a subadult female.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: General and Systematic Zoology, Zoological Institute and Museum, University of Greifswald, Greifswald 17489; Germany.

ABSTRACT
Sexual cannibalism is a particularly extreme example of conflict between the sexes, depriving the male of future reproduction. Theory predicts that sexual conflict should induce counter-adaptations in the victim. Observations of male spiders mating with moulting and hence largely immobile females suggest that this behaviour functions to circumvent female control and cannibalism. However, we lack quantitative estimates of natural frequencies and fitness consequences of these unconventional matings. To understand the importance of mating while moulting in cannibalistic mating systems, we combined mating experiments and paternity assessment in the laboratory with extensive field observations using the sexually cannibalistic orb-web spider Argiope bruennichi. Copulations with moulting females resulted in 97% male survival compared with only 20% in conventional matings. Mating while moulting provided similar paternity benefits compared with conventional matings. Our findings support the hypothesis that mating with moulting females evolved under sexual conflict and safely evades sexual cannibalism. Despite male benefits, natural frequencies were estimated around 44% and directly predicted by a male guarding a subadult female. Since only adult females signal their presence, the difficulty for males to locate subadult females might limit further spreading of mating with moulting females.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mating while moulting in the orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi.(A). Female in the final phase of moulting. (B). Mating while moulting occurs while the female is hanging below her exuviae, still whitish (unsclerotized), and does not move.
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f1: Mating while moulting in the orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi.(A). Female in the final phase of moulting. (B). Mating while moulting occurs while the female is hanging below her exuviae, still whitish (unsclerotized), and does not move.

Mentions: We staged 50 male encounters with moulting females, 40 of which (80%) resulted in a successful copulation (Figure 1). Sexual cannibalism only occurred in a single case in which the male was stuck in copula, tried to uncouple without success and was consumed 38 minutes later when the female had become active.


Exploiting a moment of weakness: male spiders escape sexual cannibalism by copulating with moulting females.

Uhl G, Zimmer SM, Renner D, Schneider JM - Sci Rep (2015)

Mating while moulting in the orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi.(A). Female in the final phase of moulting. (B). Mating while moulting occurs while the female is hanging below her exuviae, still whitish (unsclerotized), and does not move.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4660273&req=5

f1: Mating while moulting in the orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi.(A). Female in the final phase of moulting. (B). Mating while moulting occurs while the female is hanging below her exuviae, still whitish (unsclerotized), and does not move.
Mentions: We staged 50 male encounters with moulting females, 40 of which (80%) resulted in a successful copulation (Figure 1). Sexual cannibalism only occurred in a single case in which the male was stuck in copula, tried to uncouple without success and was consumed 38 minutes later when the female had become active.

Bottom Line: Copulations with moulting females resulted in 97% male survival compared with only 20% in conventional matings.Mating while moulting provided similar paternity benefits compared with conventional matings.Despite male benefits, natural frequencies were estimated around 44% and directly predicted by a male guarding a subadult female.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: General and Systematic Zoology, Zoological Institute and Museum, University of Greifswald, Greifswald 17489; Germany.

ABSTRACT
Sexual cannibalism is a particularly extreme example of conflict between the sexes, depriving the male of future reproduction. Theory predicts that sexual conflict should induce counter-adaptations in the victim. Observations of male spiders mating with moulting and hence largely immobile females suggest that this behaviour functions to circumvent female control and cannibalism. However, we lack quantitative estimates of natural frequencies and fitness consequences of these unconventional matings. To understand the importance of mating while moulting in cannibalistic mating systems, we combined mating experiments and paternity assessment in the laboratory with extensive field observations using the sexually cannibalistic orb-web spider Argiope bruennichi. Copulations with moulting females resulted in 97% male survival compared with only 20% in conventional matings. Mating while moulting provided similar paternity benefits compared with conventional matings. Our findings support the hypothesis that mating with moulting females evolved under sexual conflict and safely evades sexual cannibalism. Despite male benefits, natural frequencies were estimated around 44% and directly predicted by a male guarding a subadult female. Since only adult females signal their presence, the difficulty for males to locate subadult females might limit further spreading of mating with moulting females.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus