Behaviour 2019
Search
Invisible signals: Insights into chemical communication in a well-studied wolf-spider.
Olivia Bauer-Nilsen, George W. Uetz. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, United States

The wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata is known for using of multimodal communication (visual and vibratory signals) in male courtship, but the role of chemical signaling is less obvious.  Previous studies have shown that males recognize female chemical cues on dragline silk and, upon encounter will subsequently begin courting.  Males can detect female mating status and feeding history based on chemical cues alone and will alter courtship effort as a result. We tested whether S. ocreata can detect immune-compromised individuals using chemical cues alone and found divergent results depending on sex.  Males performed fewer courtship displays in the presence of silk from pathogen-infected females, and more with silk of controls. Females show attraction to silk in general, but no difference in behavior toward silk from infected or uninfected males.  However, when male chemical cues are paired with video playback of male courtship, females show more receptivity towards stimuli paired with control silk than infected silk.  Results show both males and females use chemical cues in mate choice, but without associated male courting stimuli, immune status of silk does not affect female behavior.