Journal of Ethology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 33-39

First online:

Adaptive advantages of maternal care and matriphagy in a foliage spider,Chiracanthium japonicum (Araneae: Coubionidae)

  • Masatoshi ToyamaAffiliated withLaboratory of Applied Zoology, Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University

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I examined the function of maternal care in a foliage spider,Chiracanthium japonicum. Females of this species make breeding nests with rolled-up grass leaves and provide themselves to spiderlings as food at the end of maternal care. By removing mothers from their offspring at 2 different times, the effects of maternal care on egg and spiderling survival rates were estimated separately. Mother attendance greatly improved survival and development of eggs as well as spiderlings. Detailed observations on the fate of immatures in breeding nests with and without their mothers showed lower hatching and spiderling emergence rates when mothers were removed. Furthermore, spiderlings that fed on their mother’s body showed accelerated growth and quickly molted into the 3rd instar with the delay of dispersal. This suggests that matriphagy, or eating the mother, enables spiderlings of this species to disperse at a later instar. Therefore, I conclude that the maternal care of this spider consists of guarding offspring, supporting offspring development and feeding spiderlings.