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Pseudocopulation and male-male conflict elicited by subadult females of the subsocial spider Anelosimus cf. studiosus (Theridiidae)

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In spider species with first male sperm priority, males guard subadult females as a tactic for improving their paternity. Preliminary observations in Anelosimus cf. studiosus, a subsocial species from Uruguay, showed that males court and guard subadult females. To elucidate the sexual tactics of this species, we placed two adult males with one adult female, and two other males with one subadult (penultimate) female under laboratory conditions (20 trials for each female status/group). Males courted both adult and subadult females, and subadult females were as receptive as adults, adopting the acceptance posture and pseudocopulating with males. Males performed conspicuous fights under both situations. Winner males copulated (or pseudocopulated), while the losers remained as satellites. Some females remated with satellite males. Subadult female behaviour simulating the adult receptive display could be a cheating tactic for retaining males and eliciting combats. Male-male fights and the guarding of subadult females suggest the occurrence of first male sperm priority, but the persistence of satellite males also suggests second males have some degree of paternity success. Competition could be caused by an asynchrony in female maturation at the beginning of the reproductive season, turning adult females in to the scarce resource.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y Evolución, Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable, Av. Italia 3318, 11600 Montevideo, Uruguay; Sección Entomología, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay; 2: Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y Evolución, Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable, Av. Italia 3318, 11600 Montevideo, Uruguay; Sección Entomología, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay; 3: Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y Evolución, Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable, Av. Italia 3318, 11600 Montevideo, Uruguay

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