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Changes in male mate choice in a sexually cannibalistic orb-web spider (Araneae: Araneidae)

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In theory, male mate choice should occur when the costs of copulation, in terms of future mating opportunities, are high. The criteria males use to choose mates may change depending upon male mating history and the potential for future matings. We examine male mate choice in the St. Andrew's Cross Spider (Argiope keyserlingi Araneae: Araneidae). Laboratory experiments revealed that death and injury caused by female sexual cannibalism limits males to a maximum of two copulations. We assessed the mate choices of virgin and mated males for females of different reproductive status. We used field and laboratory choice bioassays involving airborne and web-based pheromones. In field experiments, wild males were strongly attracted to webs built by laboratory-raised virgin females. Webs from mated females did not attract males. Male mate choice was affected by male reproductive status: while virgin males strongly preferred penultimate and virgin females to mated females, mated males were apparently indifferent to females of different mating status. Such post-copulatory changes in male mate choice have not been previously documented, and may reflect a decreased potential for future mating.


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