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Abstract

Females can affect male probabilities of paternity success through behavioural, morphological and/or physiological processes occurring during or after copulation. These processes under female-control include the acceptance or rejection of mating attempts by subsequent males. Leucauge mariana is an orb weaving spider that shows male mate guarding of penultimate females, male–male competition on female webs and copulatory plugs, suggesting a polyandric mating system. The aim of the present study was to ascertain whether male behaviour during courtship and copulation in L. mariana relate with female re-mating decisions. Forty-three virgin females were exposed to up to three males until they mated. In 24 cases, the copulatory plug was absent after mating and females were exposed the next day to up to three other males. Eighteen females accepted a second mating. Relatively larger females were more receptive to second matings and were more likely to copulate if the second male was smaller. Longer duration of female tapping and abdominal bobbing during courtship, and first copulations with less short insertions and more flubs, were associated with increased female acceptance to second matings. The results indicate cryptic female choice on male courtship and copulatory performance and suggest female-control over the determination of male mating success in this spider species.