Vision-based ability of an ant-mimicking jumping spider to discriminate between models, conspecific individuals and prey
Myrmarachne assimilis, an ant-like (myrmecomorphic) jumping spider (Araneae, Salticidae) from the Philippines, is a Batesian mimic of Oecophylla smaragdina, the Asian weaver ant. Salticids are well known for their acute eyesight and the elaborate vision-based display behaviour they adopt during encounters with conspecific individuals, but most salticids are not myrmecomorphic. Despite its unusual morphology, M. assimilis adopts display behaviour during intraspecific interactions that is similar to the display behaviour of more typical salticids. The specificity with which M. assimilis deploys display behaviour is investigated and provides insights into this mimic's ability to differentiate, by sight alone, between models, conspecific individuals and prey. During each standardized test, an adult M. assimilis female was in a large cage along with a small transparent glass vial, a stimulus animal being enclosed in the vial such that potential optical cues, but not potential chemical cues, were available to the tested M. assimilis individual. Depending on the test, the stimulus animal was another adult M. assimilis female, a house fly (prey) or an ant (Camponotus sp. or O. smaragdina). Only the conspecific female consistently elicited display from M. assimilis, implying that M. assimilis is a Batesian mimic that can, when relying on vision alone, discriminate between conspecific individuals, models and prey. © 2006 Birkhäuser Verlag.