Honors: All College Participants

Title

Wolf spider males selectively employ courtship components when exposed to different environmental stimuli

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Biology

Minor

Chemistry

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Laura Sullivan-Beckers

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

In animals that use courtship displays to attract mates, displays may include multiple components in multiple sensory modalities, and they can be costly to produce. Selective use of display components may preserve energy and decrease conspicuousness to predators. Signalers may also benefit from directing courtship only to conspecifics to avoid wasting energy or costly mis-mating. In this study we examine whether male wolf spiders (Tigrosa annexa) selectively employ visual and vibrational courtship components in response to (i) variation in the light environment and (ii) in response to cues of receptive conspecific or heterospecific females. We have found that although males continue to use both visual and vibrational signals in a dark environment (where visual signals do not transmit effectively), they use fewer visual signal components in the dark. Additionally, in response to heterospecific female cues, males surprisingly continue to display, but their displays include fewer signal components than when in the presence of cues of conspecific females. In all conditions, males continued to signal in the vibrational modality. Our results suggest that the incorporation of particular display components has benefited males over evolutionary time, as males are decreasing the relative contribution of different signaling modalities in response to changes in their environments. The ability to fine-tune a mating advertisement may help to explain the evolution of complex signals.

Location

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Affiliations

Honors Thesis

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Nov 15th, 9:30 AM Nov 15th, 12:30 PM

Wolf spider males selectively employ courtship components when exposed to different environmental stimuli

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

In animals that use courtship displays to attract mates, displays may include multiple components in multiple sensory modalities, and they can be costly to produce. Selective use of display components may preserve energy and decrease conspicuousness to predators. Signalers may also benefit from directing courtship only to conspecifics to avoid wasting energy or costly mis-mating. In this study we examine whether male wolf spiders (Tigrosa annexa) selectively employ visual and vibrational courtship components in response to (i) variation in the light environment and (ii) in response to cues of receptive conspecific or heterospecific females. We have found that although males continue to use both visual and vibrational signals in a dark environment (where visual signals do not transmit effectively), they use fewer visual signal components in the dark. Additionally, in response to heterospecific female cues, males surprisingly continue to display, but their displays include fewer signal components than when in the presence of cues of conspecific females. In all conditions, males continued to signal in the vibrational modality. Our results suggest that the incorporation of particular display components has benefited males over evolutionary time, as males are decreasing the relative contribution of different signaling modalities in response to changes in their environments. The ability to fine-tune a mating advertisement may help to explain the evolution of complex signals.