Life-history variation in closely related generalist predators living in the same habitat: a case study with three Cyclosa spiders



1. Generalist predators sharing similar food resources and phenologies as well as having no competitive interactions are expected to have a similar life-history pattern, but some closely related web spiders show different life-history traits. The present paper clarifies possible selection pressures affecting life-history traits of the three coexisting Cyclosa spiders and explores the significance of the life-history variation.

2.Cyclosa argenteoalba had lower daily survival rate and higher growth rate, C. sedeculata had higher daily survival rate and lower growth rate, and C. octotuberculata showed intermediate levels. This implies that the selection pressures these spiders experience differ appreciably even in the same habitat.

3. The significance of the life-history characteristics of the three species was evaluated by general life-history theories. Cyclosa argenteoalba showed distinguishing reproductive traits: shorter time to maturation, larger reproductive effort, larger relative clutch size, decreased clutch size with the number of clutches, and smaller egg size. These characteristics may have evolved in response to the larger ratio of juvenile to adult survivorship. Cyclosa octotuberculata had a clutch size much larger than the other two species, but relative clutch sizes accounting for body size were similar between C. octotuberculata and C. sedeculata. Also, the two species showed a similar time to maturation despite having different selection pressures. Probably, higher growth rate compensates for lower survivorship, leading to the similarity in some reproductive traits.