Sexual dimorphism in chelicerae size in three species of nuptial-gift spiders: a discussion of possible functions and driving selective forces


  • Editor: Philip Rainbow

Luiz Ernesto Costa-Schmidt, Núcleo de Aracnologia, Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500; Prédio 43323; Sala 205, Porto Alegre/RS, CEP 91501-970 Brazil.


Positive allometric patterns observed for intersexual signalling characters are related to directional sexual selection, and supported by theoretical and empirical data. Recent models have shown that positive allometry may not hold as a rule if the influence of natural selection is added to the model. Here we tested these models applying traditional morphometrical techniques for the analysis of chelicerae sexual dimorphism and allometric patterns within the genus Paratrechalea: Paratrechalea azul, Paratrechalea galianoae and Paratrechalea ornata. Spider chelicerae are basically used for prey capture, but males of Paratrechalea also use the chelicerae to offer a nuptial gift during courtship, also presenting a clear size and colour sexual dimorphism supporting a possible role as a signal. Chelicerae size was male biased for all the variables studied and showed an isometric pattern, while females showed a higher variation. Our findings are in accordance with models of viability-related function for prey capture, questioning some statements proposed by the positive allometry model.