Fighting for the web: competition between female feather-legged spiders (Uloborus plumipes)

Anna-Christin Joel, Anne Habedank, Jonas Hausen, Joerg Mey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Most spider species are solitary, and among the few social interactions among them, resource competition between females has received little attention. We discovered that females of the feather-legged spider Uloborus plumipes invade the orb webs of conspecifics and compete for webs. Following observations in the wild, intruder-defender interactions were studied in a terrarium and in controlled laboratory experiments. We found that contests for orb webs occurred spontaneously between adult females. Competitive interactions in U. plumipes were characterized by an escalation of ritualized behaviors. In 27% of the contests the winner was determined by interactions at a distance, which involved behaviors that caused vibratory signaling on the web. The remaining interactions escalated to physical contact, and in 78% of these a fight occurred between the contestants. Using multivariate logistic regression we determined the factors that predicted the outcome of the contests: (i) Web ownership did not give the defender a competitive advantage. (ii) The difference in physical size between the competing spiders was the most important predictor for the outcome of web contests. (iii) Independent of body size, the display of certain behaviors, specifically the ability to reach the hub before the contestant and the frequency of attacks, increased the probability of winning. (iv) Winning or losing a fight did not affect the chances of winning subsequent contests. The interactions reported here provide a promising approach to investigate communication in spiders and to test theoretical models of intraspecific competition. (C) 2016 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalZoology
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Female-female interaction
  • Araneae
  • Uloboridae
  • Communication
  • Intraspecific competition
  • MALE JUMPING SPIDERS
  • ORB-WEAVING SPIDER
  • MALE-MALE CONTESTS
  • ANIMAL CONTESTS
  • RELATIVE IMPORTANCE
  • AGONISTIC BEHAVIOR
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • FOOD LIMITATION
  • RESOURCE VALUE
  • BODY-SIZE

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