By Andrew Costa, Biomedical Sciences
Advisor: Nathan Morehouse
Abstract: Studying how organisms communicate with their conspecifics is important to better understand social and sexual behavior. Achieving copulation requires an interplay between males and females. There has been extensive research on male displays but very little is known on how females allocate their attention during those male displays. It is critical to study female gaze during male courtship to understand both the evolution of male displays and female choice. Male jumping spiders exhibit ritualized courtship displays that include colors and patterns on their limbs and body. We studied female gaze during male displays using eye-tracker techniques paired with video playback. Our findings suggest that each of the female retinas delegate their attention to the corresponding side of the male display. In addition, female gaze tracks specific moving elements of the male display. Our study of female gaze thus may provide new insights into how male displays evolve under female choice and sexual selection.