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By Amanda Somerville, Biological Science
Advisor: George Uetz
Presentation ID: 220
Abstract: Wolf spiders in the genus Schizocosa have been studied extensively as a model for the evolution of animal communication. The main objective of this research is to have a better understanding of courtship in a recently discovered species, Schizocosa saltatrix, and to determine whether aspects of male courtship vibration signals are related to mating success. Wolf spiders were collected from the Cincinnati Nature Center in September of 2021 and raised to maturity in the lab under controlled conditions. Once mature, male and female spiders were paired randomly, and courtship and mating behaviors were recorded. Male courtship vibration signals were recorded with a Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV), while behaviors were recorded by video camera. Male vibration signals were analyzed using Raven® and SpectraPlus® software. The male vibration signal of S. saltatrix consists of pulses of low frequency vibration, with three distinct components: "hum", "rattle" and "strike". While the overall average amplitude of signals is not related to mating success, individual components appear to play a role. Data analyzed so far suggest males that use more hums than rattles or strikes in their courtship behavior have lower mating success than those that use more rattles and strikes. Amplitude of these two components is also related to mating success. The data suggest that signal quality (i.e., structural components) may play a larger role than amplitude (loudness) in successful mating.