Sexually dimorphic dorsal coloration in a jumping spider: Testing a potential case of sex-specific mimicry

Collette Cook, Erin C. Powell, Kevin J. McGraw, Lisa A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To avoid predation, many animals mimic behaviours and/or coloration of dangerous prey. Here we examine potential sex-specific mimicry in the jumping spider Habronattus pyrrithrix. Previous work proposed that males' conspicuous dorsal coloration paired with characteristic leg-waving (i.e. false antennation) imperfectly mimics hymenopteran insects (e.g. wasps and bees), affording protection to males during mate-searching and courtship. By contrast, less active females are cryptic and display less leg-waving. Here we test the hypothesis that sexually dimorphic dorsal colour patterns in H. pyrrithrix are most effective when paired with sex-specific behaviours. We manipulated spider dorsal coloration with makeup to model the opposite sex and exposed them to a larger salticid predator (Phidippus californicus). We predicted that males painted like females should suffer higher predation rates than sham-control males. Likewise, females painted like males should suffer higher predation rates than sham-control females. Contrary to expectations, spiders with male-like coloration were attacked more than those with female-like coloration, regardless of their actual sex. Moreover, males were more likely to be captured, and were captured sooner, than females (regardless of colour pattern). With these unexpected negative results, we discuss alternative functional hypotheses for H. pyrrithrix colours, as well as the evolution of defensive coloration generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number210308
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 23 2021

Keywords

  • antipredator defence
  • Batesian
  • Habronattus
  • Hymenoptera
  • imperfect mimicry
  • Salticidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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