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Keywords:

  • Nephila edulis;
  • body size;
  • genitalia;
  • stabilizing selection;
  • fluctuating asymmetry

Abstract

Nephila edulis is a spider with large body size variability in males and females. Genital characters show negative allometric values compared to somatic characters. In males, the embolus (the most important structure for sperm transfer) had a significantly lower coefficient of variation than body size. This suggests that male genitalia are under stabilizing selection favouring intermediate size. Female N. edulis showed a trend similar to males regarding allometric values in genitalia. In females, however, the variation coefficient in a specific genital character crucial for successful copulation did not differ from that of indicators for overall body size. This suggests that in Nephila the genitalia of the females experience less stabilizing selection than those of the males. In male and female genitalia, the mode of selection seems to cause developmental instability not in degrees of fluctuating asymmetry but in the degree of data scatter which indicates a lower coefficient of determination.