• Consistency;
  • Erigone atra;
  • evolution;
  • silk

Abstract 1. The response of dispersal towards evolution largely depends on its heritability for which upper limits are determined by the trait’s repeatability.

2. In the Linyphiid spider E. atra, we were able to separate long- and short-distance dispersal behaviours (respectively ballooning and rappelling) under laboratory conditions. By performing repeated behavioural trials for females, we show that average dispersal trait values decrease with increasing testing days. By comparing mated and unmated individuals during two periods (before and after mating for the mated group, and the same two periods for the unmated group), we show that mating has no effect on the mean displayed dispersal behaviour or its within-individual variation. Repeatabilities were high and consistent for ballooning motivation, but not for rappelling.

3. Ballooning motivation can be regarded as highly individual-specific behaviour, while general pre-dispersal and rappelling behaviours showed more individual variation. Such difference in repeatability between long- and short-distance dispersal suggests that short- and long-distance dispersal events are triggered by different ecological and evolutionary mechanisms.