Octopamine and serotonin have opposite effects on antipredator behavior in the orb-weaving spider, Larinioides cornutus
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In this study, we experimentally elevated levels of octopamine and serotonin in an orb-weaving spider, and observed the effects on the antipredator behavior thanatosis (death feigning), activity level, and running speed. We found that octopamine significantly shortened the duration of thanatosis, and its effect wore off over 24 h. We also found that serotonin significantly lengthened thanatosis, but in this case, the effect persisted for over 24 h. Neither octopamine nor serotonin affected the general activity or running speed of the spiders. To our knowledge, this is the first study to directly explore the role of biogenic amines on a specific antipredator behavior in spiders. Given that spiders must be both aggressive toward prey, yet wary of predators, we believe that this system will be an outstanding model to explore connections between behavioral ecology and neurochemistry.
KeywordsAggression Biogenic amines Thanatosis Neurohormones Neuromodulation
We thank the department of biological sciences and K. Tipton for logistical support of this project. Thanks also to D. Moore, D. Roane, and K. Joplin for useful comments and discussion of the work. Special thanks to E. Seier for statistical consultation. This work was funded in part by the ETSU Honors College through Student-Faculty Collaborative Grants to T. Akoury and C. Hauser. Finally, we are particularly grateful for the helpful comments of F. Barth and two anonymous reviewers.
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