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Abstract

There has been a considerable recent interest in the criteria by which animals choose mates and in the extent to which mating systems tend to be based on mutual mate choice. In this study, we consider Evarcha culicivora, a salticid spider from East Africa. This species has some unusual characteristics, including active display by females as well as males, males that kill females more frequently than females kill males and wide intrasexual variation in body size. For females, larger males are especially dangerous. Here, we demonstrate, using two experimental designs (live-mate choice and mount choice), that virgin males, virgin females and previously mated males prefer larger opposite-sex individuals as potential mates, but mated females prefer smaller, safer males as potential mates.