, 97:63 | Cite as

Behavioural evidence of male volatile pheromones in the sex-role reversed wolf spiders Allocosa brasiliensis and Allocosa alticeps

  • Anita Aisenberg
  • Luciana Baruffaldi
  • Macarena González


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.


Male pheromones Volatile pheromones Sex-role reversal Allocosa Wolf spider 



We thank Soledad Ghione, Rodrigo Postiglioni and Carlos A. Toscano-Gadea for their help with field-work. We are grateful to Fernando G. Costa and Andrés González who read critically the first draft of the manuscript. Three anonymous reviewers and the editor Sven Thatje made suggestions that improved the final version of the manuscript. Ted Henderson improved the English. A.A. acknowledges financial support by PDT, Project 15/63, PEDECIBA, Universidad de la República, Uruguay, and Animal Behaviour Society by the Developing Nations Grant awarded to A.A.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Aisenberg
    • 1
  • Luciana Baruffaldi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Macarena González
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y EvoluciónInstituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente EstableMontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.Sección Entomología, Facultad de CienciasMontevideoUruguay

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