Adaptive advantages of matriphagy in the foliage spider, Chiracanthium japonicum (Araneae: Clubionidae)
Young of the Japanese foliage spider, Chiracanthium japonicum, show matriphagy, whereby they consume their own mothers before dispersal. By removing mothers in the laboratory, I examined the importance of this sacrificial habit for offspring survival and dispersal behavior. Spiderlings that cannibalized their mothers gained weight more than threefold and dispersed from their breeding nests after molting into the third instar. The third-instar spiderlings had relatively longer legs than the previous instars and appeared to be more adapted to a solitary hunting life style. On the other hand, most spiderlings separated from their mothers could not molt into the third instar and dispersed significantly earlier than those with matriphagy. Furthermore, the lack of matriphagy decreased the survival rate of predispersal spiderlings. These results showed that matriphagy of C. japonicum has a great advantage in allowing offspring to disperse at a more developed and active instar.
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