, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 259–265 | Cite as

Female feeding regime and polyandry in the nuptially feeding nursery web spider, Pisaura mirabilis

  • Pavol Prokop
  • Michael R. MaxwellEmail author
Original Paper


We examined the influence of female feeding regime on polyandry in the nuptially feeding nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis). In this species, the nuptial gift, a dead prey item wrapped in the male’s silk, is physically separate from the ejaculate. We manipulated female feeding regime (starved or fed) and the presence or absence of a gift with three successive males to test direct-benefits hypotheses (nuptial gift or sperm supply) for the expression of polyandry. The presence of a gift was necessary for copulation, as no male without a gift successfully copulated. Female mating behavior most strongly supports polyandry due to the accumulation of gifted food items (“nuptial gift” direct-benefits hypothesis). Starved females that were presented with a gift accepted significantly more gifts and inseminations than fed females. Most starved females (74%) copulated two or more times, as opposed to only 3% of the fed females. Nearly all of the females that accepted a gift subsequently copulated. The nuptial gift item seems to function as male mating effort and females appear to receive multiple matings as part of a feeding strategy.


Polyandry Nuptial feeding Nursery web spider Pisaura mirabilis Mating effort 



We thank Trine Bilde, Martin Edvardsson, Darryl Gwynne, Alex Maklakov, Jordi Moya-Larano, Karim Vahed, and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. Trine Bilde and Martin Edvardsson provided access to unpublished papers. This research complies with the current laws of Slovakia. This project was supported by grant VEGA no. 2/0009/09.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of TrnavaTrnavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Natural SciencesNational UniversityLa JollaUSA

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