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Approach Strategy by which Male Mediterranean Tarantulas Adjust to the Cannibalistic Behaviour of Females


Jordi Moya-Laraño, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, General Segura, 1, Almería, 04001-Almería, Spain. E-mail:


In sexually cannibalistic species, selection is thought to have favoured the evolution of male approaching behaviour that reduces the probability that the female will kill the male. However, investigations of behaviours that could reduce the probability of sexual cannibalism are few. We examine the hypothesis that male wolf spiders, Lycosa tarantula (L.) (Araneae, Lycosidae), decides to approach females in periods when they are less dangerous. Males of this species approach females for mating during the daytime only. While attending females, males stay farther from the female's burrow at night than during the daytime. In field experiments, we offered a grasshopper (typical prey) or a male L. tarantula to females at night and during the day, and our findings show that the diel changes in the male's approaching behaviour matches diurnal changes in the female's tendency to attack both the grasshopper and the male spider. These findings support our hypothesis that a diel change in female responsiveness to prey has been a selection pressure influencing the evolution of male approach behaviour in a sexually cannibalistic species.