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Orchestrating the score: complex multimodal courtship in the Habronattus coecatus group of Habronattus jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae)




Jumping spiders in the genus Habronattus use complex multimodal signals during courtship displays. In the present study, we describe multimodal displays from the Habronattus coecatus clade, comprising a diverse group of 23 described species. Habronattus coecatus group displays are made up of sex-specific ornamentation and temporally coordinated combinations of motion displays and vibratory songs. Vibratory songs are complex, consisting of up to 20 elements organized in functional groupings (motifs) that change as courtship progresses. This temporal structuring of displays is analogous to a musical composition. Vibratory elements are associated with movement displays involving coloured and patterned ornaments on the male body. We describe general patterns of multimodal displays for 11 species including one, Habronattus borealis, which appears to have lost complex display behaviour. Habronattus coecatus group courtship is one of the most complex communication systems yet described in arthropods and this group may reveal important factors driving the evolution of complex signals. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 522–547.

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