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Wolf Spider Sociobiology: Ii. Density Parameters Influencing Agonistic Behavior in Schizocosa Crassipes

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1. The influences of social, spatial and population density parameters on agonistic behavior in the adult male wolf spider Schizocosa crassipes were analyzed. Social density varied the number of spiders present (N = 2, 3 or 5) in different spatial densities (U =90, 180, 270 or 450 cm2). Population density varied the amount of space available per animal, irrespective of social and spatial density. 2. Multiple stepwise discriminant analysis revealed differences among the social, spatial and population density groups on the basis of the number and kinds of agonistic behaviors displayed. 3. As social density increased, the number of agonistic interactions increased. Although the spiders did not interact more frequently with any one partner over 10 days, they continued to respond differentially to one another with regard to established dominance-subordinance relations. 4. Within each spatial density, the amount of space had no effect on the total number of agonistic interactions. However, within each social density, the number of agonistic interactions varied according to the amount of space available. In less restricted spatial densities, agonistic interactions increased with the number of spiders. 5. The absolute distance maintained between spiders increased proportionally with spatial density. However, when distances were expressed as a percentage of the maximum possible distance between any two animals, spiders tested in the largest spatial density exhibited decreasing inter-individual distances over time, while those tested in the smallest spatial density exhibited increasing distances. These findings suggested social attraction among the spiders when sufficient space was available. 6. As population density increased the number of agonistic interactions increased. However, no differences in the number of interactions between specific partners occurred. 7. By comparing Equal and Low population density groups, an estimate of the personal space of male S. crassipes was calculated to be 5.35 cm, which agreed with field and laboratory observations. 8. When spiders are grouped within certain spatial limits, various types of agonistic behaviors serve to space the animals according to their personal distance. High population density may interfere with communicatory behavior patterns which in turn may weaken dominance-subordinance relationships.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology & Microbiology, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, U.S.A.

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