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Abstract

The use of acoustic signals by males during courtship and mating is well known. Nevertheless, their association with female unwillingness to mate is much less studied. In spiders, stridulation during sexual interactions is relatively common in some groups, but mainly restricted to males. In the pholcid spider Holocnemus pluchei, both sexes have stridulatory organs. The aims of the present work were (1) to establish whether female stridulation occurs during intra- and inter-sexual interactions, (2) to determine whether female reproductive status affects the likelihood that she will stridulate and (3) to determine whether female stridulation is influenced by male sexual behaviour. We found that female stridulation usually occurs both during intrasexual interactions and, most frequently, during intersexual interactions. Females with more previous matings stridulated more frequently. Stridulation intensity was higher in females that did not accept new copulations compared with those that copulated. Female stridulation did not vary in elaborated and non-elaborated courtship. Thus, females use stridulation to communicate levels of sexual receptivity. It is also possible that females use stridulation to indirectly assess male ability to persist and persuade.