Cues for web invasion and aggressive mimicry signalling in Portia (Araneae, Salticidae)

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Abstract

Portia is a web-invading araneophagic spider that uses aggressive mimicry to deceive its prey. The present paper is a first step toward clarifying experimentally the cues that govern Portia's decisions of whether to enter a web, whether to make signals once in a web, and whether to persist at signalling once started. The following conclusions are supported: cues from seeing a web elicit web entry, but volatile chemical cues from webs of prey spiders are not important; seeing a spider in a web increases Portia's inclination to enter the web; after web entry, cues from webs of prey spiders are sufficient to elicit signalling behaviour, even in the absence of other cues coming directly from the prey spider; seeing a prey spider or detecting vibrations on the web make Portia more prone to signal, but volatile chemical cues from prey spiders are not important; once Portia is on a web and signalling, seeing a moving spider and detecting vibrations on the web encourage Portia to persist in signalling; on the basis of visual cues alone, Portia can distinguish between quiescent spiders, insects and eggsacs.

Ancillary