Behaviour 2019
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Aversion Learning in a Cannibalistic Spider (Latrodectus spp.)  
Laura Gatchoff, Laura Stein. University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, United States

Many web-spinning spiders learn to avoid potentially risky prey through experience and recognition of prey vibration patterns. While evidence of this phenomenon is seen in multiple studies, the generalization of spider ability for aversion learning across contexts is still unclear. Spiders can benefit from generalized aversion learning capabilities in several situations other than foraging, such as predator and cannibalization avoidance. Here, we examine individual variation in the ability of juvenile and adult Latrodectus spp. (widow spiders) to associate an aversive stimulus with a vibratory cue. We examine whether individual differences in learning are associated with different correlations among aggression, freezing, and flight behaviors at different points in ontogeny. Altogether, this study will provide more information on the development of learning abilities in a web-spinning spider that may be important for survival and social interaction and lays a foundation for further examination of mechanisms driving variation in behavior in this system. We will discuss our results in the context of learning and its relation to social development in venomous, cannibalistic species.