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Mutual Mate Assessment in Wolf Spiders: Differences in the Cues Used by Males and Females


Corresponding author: Ann L. Rypstra, Department of Zoology, Miami University, 1601 Peck Blvd, Hamilton, OH 45011, USA. E-mail:


When males engage in conspicuous courtship displays, it seems obvious that females would use characteristics of that display in mating decisions. However, males must also have a way to identify and evaluate females prior to engaging in what might be a costly mating ritual. Although it was known that female wolf spiders of the species Pardosa milvina (Araneae; Lycosidae) attract males using volatile chemical cues, the nature of the cues used by males and females in mate selection had not been investigated. Specifically we determined whether males could detect the mating status of the female and if chemotactile cues from the female played a role in that process. In addition, we quantified conspicuous aspects of the male courtship (leg raises and body shakes) to determine if courtship intensity was related to female choice. Although repeated mating occurred in our studies, males were more likely to court and mate with virgin females. Males used substrate-borne cues deposited by females to discriminate between mated and virgin females. Females used the conspicuous behaviors of males during courtship, body shakes and leg raises, in mate selection. Thus males and females use different kinds of information and different sensory modalities to assess the suitability of a potential mate.