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Keywords:

  • aggressive mimicry;
  • araneophagy;
  • eyes;
  • predatory behaviour;
  • Salticidae;
  • Spartaeinae

Abstract

All jumping spiders have unique, complex eyes with exceptional spatial acuity and some of the most elaborate vision-guided predatory strategies ever documented for any animal of their size. However, it is only recently that phylogenetic techniques have been used to reconstruct the relationships and key evolutionary events within the Salticidae. Here, we used data for 35 species and six genes (4.8 kb) for reconstructing the phylogenetic relationships between Spartaeinae, Lyssomaninae and Salticoida. We document a remarkable case of morphological convergence of eye ultrastructure in two clades with divergent predatory behaviour. We, furthermore, find evidence for a stepwise, gradual evolution of a complex predatory strategy. Divergent predatory behaviour ranges from cursorial hunting to building prey-catching webs and araneophagy with web invasion and aggressive mimicry. Web invasion and aggressive mimicry evolved once from an ancestral spartaeine that was already araneophagic and had no difficulty entering webs due to glue immunity. Web invasion and aggressive mimicry was lost once, in Paracyrba, which has replaced one highly specialized predation strategy with another (hunting mosquitoes). In contrast to the evolution of divergent behaviour, eyes with similarly high spatial acuity and ultrastructural design evolved convergently in the Salticoida and in Portia.