Spider love: Little guys get lots more
Big males outperform smaller ones in head-to-head mating contests but diminutive males make ten times better lovers because they're quicker to mature and faster on their feet, a new study of redback spiders reveals.
Published in the current online issue of Journal of Evolutionary Biology, the study shows the importance of maturation in defining mating and paternity success. In field enclosures, researchers simulated two competitive contexts favouring the development of differently sized male redbacks (Latrodectus hasselti).
The larger males were more successful at mating with and impregnating females when they competed directly with smaller males. However, when faster maturing smaller males were given a one-day head start, reflecting their earlier maturation in nature, they had a ten-times higher paternity rate than larger males.
Courtship between redbacks lasts an average of 50 minutes when males are competing and 4.5 hours for single, non-competing males. Copulation lasts from 6 to 31 minutes, and males are usually injured or killed during the process.
"The results reveal that big males don't get it all their own way," says lead author, UNSW postdoctoral fellow, Dr Michael Kasumovic, who co-authored the paper with Maydianne Andrade of the University of Toronto. "Nature favours larger and smaller males under different circumstances. Larger males experienced a longer maturation process so they are unable to search for and mate with females and produce offspring at the same rate as smaller redback spiders.
"Large size and weaponry are strong predictors of a male's competitive strengths because those traits help them dominate smaller males when they compete for food and mating rights. However, evidence from studies of midges, dung flies and seed beetles reveals that smaller males develop sooner than larger males and often mate before larger competing males arrive on the scene. Size isn't the only ruler by which we can measure a male's quality. Many other factors, including maturation time, are critical in that definition."
Dr. Michael Kasumovic | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...