Substrate preference in a colonial spider: is substrate choice affected by color morph?


Correspondence: Florencia Fernández Campón, Laboratorio de Entomología, IADIZA, CCT Mendoza, CONICET. Av. Ruiz Leal s/n, C.C. 507, Mendoza, C.P. 5500, Argentina.



Animals can show preference for a particular background as a way of decreasing visibility. Species with color polymorphism may have morph-dependent background preference. I test this hypothesis on the orb-weaving spider Parawixia bistriata. Adult females of P. bistriata present two distinct morphs characterized by brown and yellow opisthosomata. This nocturnal spider can be found in its retreat on the vegetation during the day. In order to examine whether females exhibit substrate preference dependent on their color morph, I first recorded the distribution of color morphs on different substrates (leaf and branch) and then performed a mark and release experiment. Field censuses indicated that the yellow morph was associated with leaves while the brown morph was found on either substrate type. The results of a mark and reciprocal release experiment agreed with the censuses and suggest that the two morphs differ in their association to substrate type: yellow females were associated with the leaf substrate, while brown females showed no association to a particular substrate type. Possible forces behind these differences in substrate choice are discussed.