Behavioural evidence of male volatile pheromones in the sex-role reversed wolf spiders Allocosa brasiliensis and Allocosa alticeps
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The use of chemical signals in a sexual context is widespread in the animal kingdom. Most studies in spiders report the use of female pheromones that attract potential sexual partners. Allocosa brasiliensis and Allocosa alticeps are two burrowing wolf spiders that show sex-role reversal. Females locate male burrows and initiate courtship before males perform any detectable visual or vibratory signal. So, females of these species would be detecting chemical or mechanical cues left by males. Our objective was to explore the potential for male pheromones to play a role in mate detection in A. brasiliensis and A. alticeps. We designed two experiments. In Experiment 1, we tested the occurrence of male contact pheromones by evaluating female courtship when exposed to empty burrows constructed by males or females (control). In Experiment 2, we tested the existence of male volatile pheromones by evaluating female behaviour when exposed to artificial burrows connected to tubes containing males, females or empty tubes (control). Our results suggest the occurrence of male volatile pheromones that trigger female courtship in both Allocosa species. The sex-role reversal postulated for these wolf spiders could be driving the consequent reversal in typical pheromone-emitter and detector roles expected for spiders.