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Repeated Evolution of Male Sacrifice Behavior in Spiders Correlated with Genital Mutilation

Jeremy A. Miller
Evolution
Vol. 61, No. 6 (Jun., 2007), pp. 1301-1315
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4621377
Page Count: 15
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Repeated Evolution of Male Sacrifice Behavior in Spiders Correlated with Genital Mutilation
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Abstract

According to sexual cannibalism theory, male complicity in terminal mating can be adaptive when the male's future reproductive value is low relative to the benefits of self sacrifice. Spiders and insects that exhibit male sacrifice behavior (either complicity in cannibalism or spontaneous death associated with copulation) often also have male genitalia that stereotypically become broken or disfigured the first time they are used for copulation, potentially lowering his future reproductive value. Theoretical work on monogamy has identified male bias in the effective sex ratio as a precursor to the evolution of monogamy (including male sacrifice) as an adaptive form of paternity protection. Using phylogeny-based statistics and drawing on several phylogenetic studies of araneoid spiders, I investigate relationships between male sacrifice behavior, genital mutilation, extreme sexual size dimorphism, and the accumulation of multiple males in the female web (as an indicator of a male-based effective sex ratio). This investigation focuses on araneoid spiders because several independent origins of sacrifice behavior are known for this group and the phylogenetic structure of the lineage is relatively well studied. I report that male genital mutilation is significantly correlated with sacrifice behavior and argue that this finding is consistent with sexual cannibalism theory. Male sacrifice behavior is also correlated with male accumulation, a result that is consistent with theoretical work on the evolution of monogamy. Male accumulation and extreme sexual size dimorphism are correlated suggesting that sex-based differences in maturation time can lead to a male biased effective sex ratio. Similar patterns of correlated characters may hold for some insect taxa. Studying traits that have appeared independently in multiple lineages is a powerful method for developing general theories about the evolution of biological phenomena.

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