Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 12–23 | Cite as

Sexual Differences in the Behavior of the Harvestman Leiobunum vittatum (Opiliones, Sclerosomatidae) Towards Conspecific Cues

  • R. H. Willemart
  • E. A. Hebets


Preliminary observations of the harvestman Leiobunum vittatum found that individuals rub their bodies against the substrate, presenting the possibility of chemical marking. To determine whether or not L. vittatum individuals can detect substrate-borne chemical cues, we compared responses of L. vittatum males and females to substrate-borne male and female cues. We found that individuals of L. vittatum do respond to conspecific cues and that their responses are sex-specific. In response to substrate-borne conspecific cues, male L. vittatum spent more time, engaged in more scraping with their sensory legs I, and engaged in pedipalpal tapping more often in the presence versus absence of conspecific cues (male and female equally). Furthermore, in the presence of conspecific cues, males engaged in two behaviors never observed in females—(a) “fast approach” and (b) “jerking”, the latter of which was never observed in the presence of cricket cues. In contrast to males, females did not spend more time on conspecific cues, but did spend more time tapping their pedipalps in the presence of male vs female cues, suggesting an ability to distinguish between them. A final experiment explored the possibility that females could discriminate among males of varying histories of agonistic interactions based upon their chemical cues. We found no support for this hypothesis. Our results demonstrate that L. vitattum do respond to conspecific cues, and introduce the possibility that intraspecific communication may be mediated in part by chemical cues.


Pheromones chemical communication Arachnida leiobuninae kairomones 



Thanks to J. Shultz for kindly identifying the harvestmen, and to D. Wilgers, K. Santer, K. Fowler-Finn, R. Santer and S. Schwartz for helping with spider and harvestmen collection and for helpful discussions. Special thanks to K. Santer for helping with scoring tapes. RHW was supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). Prashant Sharma and two anonymous reviewers carefully revised the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ecologia Sensorial e Comportamento de Artrópodes (LESCA), Escola de Artes Ciências e HumanidadesUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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