Study: Male Spiders Eavesdrop to Master Mating Routine

posted: 08/04/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Eye configuration of a Hogna species wolf spider
Opoterser/Wikimedia Commons

For male wolf spiders, mating is all about the leg tapping. Much like the rhythmic peacock spider, a musically inclined male wolf spider can impress a female with his precisely choreographed series of leg taps.

Or, he can steal another male's routine. New research published in the journal Animal Behavior shows that the brush-legged wolf spider is a master eavesdropper.

Researchers raised a group of wolf spiders in a laboratory setting, where the tiny creatures weren't exposed to any mating behaviors. When the laboratory spiders saw videos of wild males' leg tapping routines, they unexpectedly emulated and mastered the behavior in as little as four days.

"There's a lot of eavesdropping that occurs in the natural world, but it's usually associated with more highly social animals with much bigger brains," co-researcher George Uetz, a University of Cincinnati professor of biological sciences, explained in a news release. "It's very common in birds, fish and mammals, but infrequently seen among invertebrates."

Perhaps it's for the better that male spiders take some cues from their competition: a nonplussed female will eat her suitor, making the mating game a matter of life and death.

Click here for more information from University of Cincinnati

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