How mosquito-eating jumping spiders communicate: complex display sequences, selective attention and cross-modality priming
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Evarcha culicivora is a salticid with an unusual preferred diet (vertebrate blood obtained indirectly by preying on female mosquitoes that have themselves had recent blood meals) and an unusual affinity for particular plant species (Lantana camara and Ricinus communis). This thesis is a study of how individuals of this species interact with each other, with a general objective being to clarify the role of visual attention and crossmodality priming in the mate-choice behaviour of this species. E. culicivora’s courtship and display behaviour was shown to be especially complex and highly variable. Experiments on vision-based mate-choice showed that mutual mate-choice behaviour is pronounced in E. culicivora and that both sexes prefer large mates over small mates. Olfactometer experiments showed that E. culicivora is attracted to the odours of bloodfed female mosquitoes, Lantana camara and Ricinus communis and opposite-sex conspecifics. A prior diet of blood-fed female mosquitoes enhances attractiveness to the opposite sex. Opposite-sex conspecifics paired with the odour of blood-fed female mosquitoes are also more attractive. Cross-modality priming effects were investigated in other experiments that showed individuals of E. culicivora responded more to visual cues of opposite-sex conspecifics when in the presence of certain odours (of opposite-sex conspecifics, blood-fed female mosquitoes and L. camara).