Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 419–426 | Cite as

Sexual competition in an inbreeding social spider,Stegodyphus dumicola (Araneae: Eresidae)

  • J. R. Henschel
  • Y. D. Lubin
  • J. Schneider
Research Article


Sexual competition is shown to occur in the social spiderStegodyphus dumicola (Eresidae). While the secondary sex ratio inS. dumicola was female-biased, the overall operational sex ratio (numbers of breeding males to breeding females over the season) showed no strong female bias. Males matured before females and had a shorter lifespan than the females. Mating took place in the natal colony. Males fought over access to the few mature females available early in the reproductive season, but females appeared to control the duration of mating. Later in the season, some adults of both sexes dispersed alone to breed elsewhere. We conclude that different rates of maturation between the sexes within a colony provide the opportunity for females that mature early in the season to be choosy in selecting a mate and this forces males to compete. Early reproduction may be beneficial for both females and males, because the offspring of females that reproduce early may have a competitive advantage over later (and smaller) offspring in the colony.

Key words

Operational sex ratio male rivalry female choice inbreeding emigration 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Henschel
    • 1
  • Y. D. Lubin
    • 2
  • J. Schneider
    • 3
  1. 1.Desert Ecological Research Unit of NamibiaSwakopmundNamibia
  2. 2.Mitrani Centre for Desert Ecology, Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion University of the NegevSede Boqer CampusIsrael
  3. 3.Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, SeewiesenStarnbergGermany

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