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Is Male Cohabitation Costly for Females of the Spider Stegodyphus lineatus (Eresidae)?

Authors

  • Tamar Erez,

    1. Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, The Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer, Israel
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
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  • Jutta M. Schneider,

    1. Institut für Zoologie, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King Platz, Hamburg, Germany
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  • Yael Lubin

    1. Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, The Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer, Israel
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Jutta Schneider, Institut für Zoologie, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King Platz 3, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail: js@gilgamesh.de

Abstract

Reproductive interests of females and males can vary over a number of issues, including the number of matings and the occurrence and duration of mate guarding and cohabitation. The mating system of the spider Stegodyphus lineatus (Eresidae) is characterized by an exceptional sexual conflict where males induce females to remate by committing infanticide. Females experience high costs because of this male strategy, while males benefit. During the mating season, males tend to stay with females for several days. We examined whether this male strategy of cohabitation is also disadvantageous for females of S. lineatus. A field experiment revealed that male presence in a female's nest negatively affected her body condition, whereas cohabiting males gained weight because they fed on prey caught in webs of females. As a response, females did not renew their webs when males were present. Thus, females with a cohabiting male experienced the combined cost of prey loss and loss of time available for foraging. These costs are expected to increase with every additional cohabiting male. Mated females behaved more aggressively toward males than did virgin females. This behavior may be interpreted as an adaptive response to reduce mating costs.

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