Zoologisches Institut und Museum
Allgemeine und Systematische Zoologie
Loitzer Str. 26
Bachelor project: Male vibratory courtship performance and mating success in Pisaura mirabilis
Communication strategies are widespread and can be found in in all three domains of life. They are the key to interactions within and between species and are generally based on the exchange of information through signals. Signals can occur in various modalities (chemical, visual, acoustic, seismic etc.) and are often used in combination. They are especially present in the context of reproduction and mate-searching. Species must recognize each other as mating partners, gain information on the sex, developmental stage and genetic quality of the other individual.
Courtship behavior is well known in many animals, such as birds and their colorful feathers, in bellowing deer or even in chirping crickets. Many spiders are known for their sensitivity toward vibratory signals. For example, they detect flying prey on its characteristic wing-flapping or on vibrations through silk on spider webs. Despite their importance, especially for arthropods, communication in the form of substrate vibration is often underestimated and therefore highly understudied.
In my bachelor project I am working with the nuptial gift-giving spider Pisaura mirabilis, a common spider in Europe that can be found in grasslands, hedges as well as the edges of forests. P. mirabilis tremulates its opisthosoma in order to produce vibratory pulses, that are henceforth transferred on the substrate over the legs. Males perform a characteristic vibratory courtship performance when encountering female silk strands which can greatly differ (pulses, pulse intervals etc.) within males of a population. In my project I will analyze male courtship performance and assess whether its quality has an impact on the male’s mating success. I will categorize the vibratory performances in “good” and “bad” signaling and furthermore conduct mating trails in order to test its influence on the mating.