Journal of Ethology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 13–20 | Cite as

A matter of choice: substrate preference by burrow-digging males of a sand-dwelling spider

  • Andrea AlbínEmail author
  • Gustavo Bardier
  • Alfredo V. Peretti
  • Miguel Simó
  • Anita Aisenberg


Animals may build refuges to avoid predation, to communicate, to mate, and to protect against extreme temperatures, among other factors. Allocosa senex is a wolf spider that constructs burrows in the coastal sand dunes of South America. The distribution of A. senex includes beaches with different granulometry, which could affect burrow characteristics and energetic costs of excavation. Males are the digging sex and their burrows are mating and oviposition sites. We aimed to test substrate preference of males of A. senex simultaneously exposed to coarse- (CS) and fine-grain sand (FS) (n = 30) and study digging behavior in both substrates. Regardless of their substrate of origin, males significantly preferred CS for digging (males from CS habitat, 23/30, P = 0.001; males from FS habitat, 20/30, P = 0.02). Males from the FS habitat showed higher weight and better body condition. Digging behavior showed similar patterns in both types of substrate but resting duration was longer when males dug in CS. Although males of A. senex can dig in both substrates, this study shows their preference for digging in CS, a substrate that is possibly less energetically demanding for that behavior.


Substrate choice Energetically demanding activity Burrowing spiders Digging plasticity 



We thank L. Bidegaray, F. Bollatti, M. Carballo, F. Cargnelutti, T. Casacuberta, M. Casacuberta, G. De Simone, Á. Laborda, M. González, L. Montes de Oca, and M. Trillo for their help in the fieldwork and breeding of spiders. We are grateful to P. Pintos and R. Postiglioni for their help with the box plots and figures. We thank Petr Dolejš, one anonymous reviewer, and the editor for their suggestions that improved the final version of the manuscript. This research was funded by the National Agency for Research and Innovation under the code POS_NAC_2013_1_555 awarded to A. Albín. A. Aisenberg and M. Simó acknowledge financial support from the Programa Desarrollo de Ciencias Básicas and the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Biología EvolutivaInstituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente EstableMontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.Sección Entomología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de La RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Biología Reproductiva y Evolución, Cátedra de Diversidad Animal I, F.C.E.F.NUniversidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina
  4. 4.Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología AnimalCONICET-UNCCórdobaArgentina

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