Fitness benefits of multiple mating versus female mate choice in the cellar spider (Pholcus phalangioides)

  • Gabriele UhlEmail author
  • Sandra Schmitt
  • Martin A. Schäfer
Original Article


Recent studies have demonstrated that mating with multiple males can be beneficial for females and her offspring even if males contribute nothing but sperm. This was mainly established for species in which sperm from several males mix in the reproductive tract of the female, thus allowing sperm competition and/or female sperm choice. However, in species with last male sperm precedence, female re-mating decides against the previous male by strongly limiting his reproductive success. We tested the effect of female re-mating behaviour using the cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides, which shows strong last males sperm precedence and moderate levels of polyandry under natural situations. We predicted that females prevented from remating even though they are receptive would show reduced reproductive success compared to females that accept two copulations and females that reject a second male, since the latter two treatments were allowed to behave according to their decisions. However, if the number of matings per se had an effect on oviposition or on offspring performance, double-mated females should perform better compared to both treatments of once-mated females. We measured female fecundity and fertility over a period of 140 days, comparable to the species' natural reproductive peak season. Two thousand one hundred and fifty-two offspring from 67 first egg sacs were reared under two feeding levels. We registered development time and survival, and measured offspring adult size and mass. We found a positive effect of double mating, as in this treatment, oviposition probability was higher compared to the other treatments. Interestingly, adult female offspring of the DM treatment that were raised under low food level had a higher condition index compared to those from FS and RM, but development time, size and mass at adulthood were not affected by mating treatment. Female choice only seemed to affect hatching latency of the offspring. Overall, the main predictor of female reproductive output and success was female body size.


Sexual selection Multiple mating Fertility Offspring phenotype Growth Survival Araneae 



We would like to thank David Hosken, Jutta Schneider, Trine Bilde, Paul Watson and an anonymous referee for detailed comments and suggestions on previous drafts of the manuscript. We thank Klaus Reinhold for discussions on nested ANOVAs. Ute Grundtner and Bärbel Bauch kindly helped with rearing masses of spiderlings and fruitflies, which we gratefully acknowledge. This work was supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG Uh87/2-2). The experiments comply with the current laws of Germany


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriele Uhl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandra Schmitt
    • 1
  • Martin A. Schäfer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Neuroethology, Institute of ZoologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Tierzucht und Genetik, Veterinärmedizinische Universität WienUniversity of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1WienAustria

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