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Published in Evolution 65:1 (January 2011), pp. 268–282; doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01125.x Copyright © 2010 Aaron S. Rundus, Laura Sullivan-Beckers, Dustin J. Wilgers, and Eileen A. Hebets. Evolution is published by The Society for the Study of Evolution and Wiley-Blackwell. Used by permission.


A broad understanding of multimodal courtship function necessitates knowledge of the potential information content of signal components, the efficacy of signal components in eliciting the appropriate receiver response, and the fitness consequences of mating decisions based upon various signal components. We present data addressing each of these requirements for the multimodal-signaling wolf spider, Schizocosa floridana Bryant. Using diet manipulations, we first demonstrate that both visual and seismic courtship signals are condition-dependent. Next, using high- and low-quantity diet individuals in mate choice trials across manipulated signaling environments, we demonstrate that the seismic signal is crucial for mating success and further show that female choosiness is environment-dependent. Females mated more with high diet males only in the absence of visual signals, showing no discrimination in the presence of visual signals. Finally, by quantifying the number of offspring produced by our mated females, we reveal that a female’s mating environment, in conjunction with her potential resource availability, influences her fitness—in environments in which females exerted choice, heavier females produced more offspring. Together, this comprehensive set of experiments demonstrates that female choosiness varies across environments, leading to direct fitness consequences.