Mate with the young, kill the old: reversed sexual cannibalism and male mate choice in the spider Micaria sociabilis (Araneae: Gnaphosidae)

Abstract

Female mate choice is regarded as a strong selective force that significantly affects male mating success. In extreme cases, mate rejection can result in sexual cannibalism. However, males may choose between their partners as well. The killing of potential female mates, i.e. reversed form of sexual cannibalism, may be related to male mate choice. We examined male mate choice in the spider Micaria sociabilis, focusing on the roles of female mating status (virgin/mated), size and age. Reversed cannibalism reached its highest frequency in the period of generation overlap, i.e. when young males from the summer generation met old(er) females from the spring generation. These results suggest discrimination against old(er) females. The frequency of cannibalism was not affected by female mating status or female size. However, larger males from the summer generation were more cannibalistic than smaller males from the spring generation. We conclude that reversed sexual cannibalism might be an adaptive mate choice mechanism and can be explained in the context of the aggressive spillover hypothesis.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by grant no. MUNI/A/0937/2012 provided by MU. We would like to thank to S. Toft and T. Bilde for providing the Collembola culture used to feed the species.

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Correspondence to Lenka Sentenská or Stano Pekár.

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Communicated by M. Elgar

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Sentenská, L., Pekár, S. Mate with the young, kill the old: reversed sexual cannibalism and male mate choice in the spider Micaria sociabilis (Araneae: Gnaphosidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 67, 1131–1139 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-013-1538-1

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Keywords

  • Cannibalism
  • Reversed
  • Female age
  • Selective males