Male Ant-mimicking Salticid Spiders Discriminate Between Retreat Silks of Sympatric Females: Implications for Pre-mating Reproductive Isolation
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- Borges, R.M., Ahmed, S. & Prabhu, C.V. J Insect Behav (2007) 20: 389. doi:10.1007/s10905-007-9085-0
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Mate recognition is essential to reproductive success especially under sympatry where encounters between the sexes of different species is likely. We examined the response of male ant-mimicking salticid spiders of the genus Myrmarachne and of five different color forms to retreat and dragline silks of sympatric females of six color forms to determine whether silk-based cues could be used as pre-mating isolation mechanisms and aid species determination. We found evidence for polymorphism within one species Myrmarachne plataleoides, a well-known mimic of the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina. Male color morphs of this species showed cross-interest in female silks of other color morphs of this species, but also exhibited greatest preference for the silk of their own color morph, providing evidence for assortative mating and the possibility of silk-based cues as mechanisms of incipient speciation via disruptive selection. Males of two other color forms exhibited unambiguous preference for the silk of their own color forms, suggesting that these two forms are distinct species. The silk-based findings were confirmed by no-choice mating experiments and opportunistic observations of natural matings.