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Abstract

Recently, work has shown that multimodal communication is common throughout the animal kingdom but the function of multimodal signals is still poorly understood. Phidippus clarus are jumping spiders in which males produce multimodal (visual and vibrational) signals in both male–male (aggressive) and male–female (courtship) contexts. The P. clarus mating system is complex, with sex ratios and the level of male competition changing over the course of the breeding season. Vibrational signal components have been shown to function in male aggressive contests but their role in courtship has not been investigated. Here, we performed an experiment to test the role of vibrational signaling in courtship by observing mating success for males that were experimentally muted. We show that vibratory courtship signals, and in particular signaling rate, is an important component of mating success and potentially a target of female choice. While the ability to produce vibratory signals significantly increased mating success, some muted males were still able to successfully mate. In these trials, signaling rate also predicted mating success suggesting that redundant signal components may compensate for errors and perturbations in signal transmission or that vibratory signals function to enhance the efficacy of visual signals.