Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Behavioral Ecology 20:6 (2009), pp. 1242–1251; doi: 10.1093/beheco/arp116 Copyright © 2009 Paul S. Shamble, Dustin J. Wilgers, Katharine A. Swoboda, and Eileen A. Hebets. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. Used by permission.


Female mate choice decisions are often based on a variety of male characteristics, some of which may reflect male quality via condition-dependent trait expression. Here, we explore the condition dependence of a male secondary sexual trait in a wolf spider and examine its influence on female mate choice. In the wolf spider Schizocosa uetzi, mature males possess a multimodal courtship display (visual + seismic) in which they slowly raise and lower their dark colored forelegs. Foreleg color is highly variable among S. uetzi males with respect to both total amount and darkness. Using diet manipulations in conjunction with color quantifications, we demonstrate condition-dependent foreleg color. High-nutrient diet males had significantly higher body condition indices and possessed more and darker foreleg color than low-nutrient diet males. However, using multiple mate choice designs, we were unable to demonstrate a female preference for male foreleg color. Using both single and 2-choice mating designs as well as using females from a range of ages, we found that copulation success was consistently independent of male foreleg color. Instead, we found courtship intensity to be the only aspect of male courtship that influenced copulation success—males that copulated displayed more leg raises per second than those that did not copulate.