Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 451–461 | Cite as

Asymmetry in male lethal fight between parapatric forms of a social spider mite

  • Yukie Sato
  • Maurice W. Sabelis
  • Atsushi Mochizuki


Closely related species often show adjacent geographic distributions, albeit with some overlap. This contiguity is thought to result from secondary contact between (spatially separated) diverging groups or from parapatric speciation. Fights between males of closely related species will affect their chance to mate with females of the other species, which in turn may promote their spatial segregation and drive their speciation. Stigmaeopsis miscanthi is a social spider mite that lives in a group within self-woven nests on leaves of Chinese silver grass. This mite shows lethal male–male fight as a means to maintain a harem, and has two forms showing differences in the levels of male–male aggression, diapause intensity in females and the relative length of the first to third legs. The two forms show parapatric distributions. We found that males of one form readily engage themselves in lethal fight with males of the other form, thereby acquiring the nests and gaining access to females of this other form. Males of the aggressive form tend to win the fights with males of the other form. Their first legs are longer which may provide them with a better weapon and which also indicate a larger body width. However, another determinant of who wins the fight is the length of the third legs which can be a proxy for body length. Based on these results, we hypothesize that male killing behavior is one of the mechanisms maintaining parapatry (instead of sympatry) of the two spider mite forms apart from difference in diapause attributes.


Interspecific competition Male antagonism Parapatry Reproductive interference 



We appreciate Prof. Yutaka Saito at Hokkaido University for spider mite collection and advice. We also thank Dr. Paul van Rijn for his comments on this paper. Two anonymous reviewers provided comments that greatly improved our manuscript. This work was supported by Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No. 21.1045).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yukie Sato
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maurice W. Sabelis
    • 1
  • Atsushi Mochizuki
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem DynamicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.National Institute for Agro-Environmental SciencesTsukuba, IbarakiJapan
  3. 3.Japan Society for the Promotion of ScienceTokyoJapan

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