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Long-Distance Wandering and Mating by the Dancing White Lady Spider (Leucorchestris arenicola) (Araneae, Sparassidae) across Namib Dunes

Joh R. Henschel
The Journal of Arachnology
Vol. 30, No. 2, Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Arachnology (2002), pp. 321-330
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3706277
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Long-Distance Wandering and Mating by the Dancing White Lady Spider (Leucorchestris arenicola) (Araneae, Sparassidae) across Namib Dunes
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Abstract

Adult males of the Dancing White Lady Spider (Leucorchestris arenicola, Araneae, Sparassidae) occurring in the dunes of the Namib Desert, Namibia, frequently wander far out of their 3m radius territories on dark nights. They move across bare dune slopes in search of mating opportunities and subsequently return to their burrows. In the current study, I describe the long-distance movements and navigational ability of males and examine how their wandering behavior relates to mating and interactions with other males. In 16 observed complete excursions, male spiders walked 51 m (median, range 16-91 m) from their burrow along a path of 134 m (42-314 m). The return path was shorter than the outgoing path, had less than 1/8 as many turns, and rarely retraced the outgoing path. Typically, the return path across open terrain had a straight section (median 33 m, range 10-89 m) which was directed towards the home burrow with a maximum angle of deviation of 5°. Males crossed 0-5 territories of adult males and as many female territories, mating in about half of the encounters with females. Males avoided each other and signaled with intense sand drumming. Adult males differ in size and there are indications that they compete with each other for mates by long-distance movements, drum-signaling each other, and interfering with mating. During three years of observations of a L. arenicola population, 8% of the largest males did 51% of the mating. Spiders of both sexes were promiscuous, and individuals mated with each other on several occasions. The current study prompts future investigations concerning male orientation and its neurophysiological basis, their ability to locate females, as well as the inter- and intrasexual relationships of L. arenicola.

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