Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 205–212 | Cite as

Factors influencing sexual cannibalism and its benefit to fecundity and offspring survival in the wolf spider Pardosa pseudoannulata (Araneae: Lycosidae)

  • Lingbing Wu
  • Huaping Zhang
  • Ting He
  • Zeliang Liu
  • Yu Peng
Original Paper


Sexual cannibalism is hypothesized to have evolved as a way to obtain a high-quality meal, as an extreme mate choice or as a consequence of female aggressive spillover. Here, we examined underlying factors likely to influence sexual cannibalism in the wolf spider Pardosa pseudoannulata (Bösenberg & Strand, 1906) from China, including mating status, female egg-laid status, female hunger level, female adult age and mate size dimorphism. The results showed that about 10 % of P. pseudoannulata virgin females cannibalized the approaching males before mating and that 28 % of P. pseudoannulata virgin females immediately cannibalized the males after mating. No incidents of sexual cannibalism during copulation were observed. Before mating, previously mated females and starved females tended to engage in significantly higher rates of attacks compared to virgin and well-fed females. Females that had laid egg sacs tended to engage in a significantly higher rate of attacks and sexual cannibalism than virgin females before mating. Regardless of pre- or post-mating, there was a strong positive relationship between mate size dimorphism and the occurrence of sexual cannibalism. We also tested the effects of sexual cannibalism on the fecundity of cannibalistic females and the survival of their offspring. Our results indicated that sexual cannibalism affected positively the offspring survival of cannibalistic females, but not fecundity. Our findings support the hypothesis that sexual cannibalism has evolved as an adaptive component of female foraging strategy and that it benefits offspring survival as a result of paternal investment.


Araneae Wolf spider Pardosa pseudoannulata Sexual cannibalism Fecundity Survival 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Fund of China (31071895), the Natural Science Fund of Hubei Province (2011CDB071) and the Key Scientific and Technological Projects of Wuhan (No: 201120722216–3). We are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers and Professor Mark Elgar (the associate editor) for suggestions and improvements to this manuscript. We also thank Dr. Janet W. Reid (Biological consulting and editing services, JWR Associates, New York, USA) for helping us edit the English for the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lingbing Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Huaping Zhang
    • 2
  • Ting He
    • 1
  • Zeliang Liu
    • 1
  • Yu Peng
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesHubei UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Yichang Agricultural Products Safety Supervision and Inspection StationYichangChina
  3. 3.College of Life SciencesZhejiang UniversityHanzhouChina

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