Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Animal Behaviour 93 (2014), pp. 111–117. doi 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.04.021


Copyright © 2014 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Most sexually reproducing animals overcome the challenge of searching for and attracting mates by utilizing signals that are broadcast through a spatially and temporally varying environment. A diverse suite of behavioral solutions exist for overcoming such environmental variability, including the adjustment of signaling behavior based upon receiver feedback. Few studies have directly examined the relationship between such tactical signaling adjustments and proxies of male fitness; the few that have, failed to find a relationship. Using the wolf spider, Schizocosa rovneri, we set out to first quantify among-male variation in the form and degree of responsiveness to female feedback. Following exposure to female receptivity cues, some males increased their signaling on an effective signaling substrate (filter paper) while others decreased signaling on the effective substrate. These groups of males were then run through mating trials, conducted in a heterogeneous environment, to examine the relationship between male signaling adjustments and subsequent mating success. Males that adaptively adjusted their signaling (i.e. increased signaling on a more effective substrate) were (1) more likely to copulate, (2) achieved a copulation more quickly and (3) were less likely to be attacked; thus establishing a positive relationship between tactical adjustments of courtship signaling and male fitness.