, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 123-128

Sexual signalling and viability in a wolf spider (Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata ): measurements under laboratory and field conditions

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This study examined the crucial prediction of the conditional-handicap theory, the relationship between male sexual trait size and male viability, in the wolf spider Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata. In this species, males court females by drumming dry leaves with their abdomen, and males with the highest drumming rate enjoy highest mating success. We determined male drumming rate, body mass, and mobility, which reflects mate-searching activity, in relation to male survival. Because it is often difficult to know how results obtained from laboratory studies reflect the natural world, particularly when the measured variable is survival, we repeated our study in both laboratory and field conditions. Males drumming at the highest rate survived better than males drumming at a lower rate in both laboratory and field conditions. These results are in accordance with the predictions of conditional-handicap models of sexual selection. Survival was independent of male body mass and there was no significant correlation between male drumming activity and body mass. However, large males moved further than smaller males, and males moving longer distances lost less mass than those moving shorter distances. These results suggest that, moving, and consequently mate-searching activity, may be a condition-dependent trait and that there may be a advantage for large males in mate searching.