, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 369-373

Fitness consequences of prolonged copulation in the bowl and doily spider

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Summary

Bowl and doily spiders, Frontinella pyramitela (Araneae, Linyphiidae), copulate much longer than the 15 min required for insemination. This apparently maladaptive behavior has been satisfactorily explained in the literature by invoking hypotheses that involve sperm competition, resistance to predators and parasites, or foraging enhancement. In this study, the fertility, live progeny production, progeny size, female receptivity, and latency to oviposition of bowl and doily spiders were measured and related to copulation duration. Using these data, we were able to eliminate six hypotheses and support a seventh: in this species, longer copulations result in larger hatchlings in the first clutch of eggs produced by the female. Although the correlation between copulation duration and progeny size is positive and significant, much of the variation in progeny size remains unexplained, and the reason for the variability in copulation durations remains obscure.

Offprint requests to: R.B. Suter