Data from: Neutral fitness outcomes contradict inferences of sexual ‘coercion’ derived from male’s damaging mating tactic in a widow spider
Baruffaldi, Luciana; Andrade, Maydianne C. B. (2018), Data from: Neutral fitness outcomes contradict inferences of sexual ‘coercion’ derived from male’s damaging mating tactic in a widow spider, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cr785
Sexual conflict over mating frequency has driven the evolution of morphological and behavioural traits across taxa. Interactions may be termed ‘coercive’ and assumed to arise from conflict when male mating behaviours cause physical injury to females and females appear to resist injurious matings.However, coercion per se occurs only if the behaviour reduces female fitness; and such outcomes are rarely measured. Here we show that a damaging mating tactic, apparently adaptive for males, is not coercive for females. Adult male Latrodectus spiders mate with immature females after tearing the exoskeleton covering the female’s recently-developed reproductive tract, which can cause haemolymph bleeding. We show that, relative to pairings with adult females, males use reduced courtship displays when approaching immature females, which in some cases respond with elevated deterrent behavioural responses. Nevertheless, we found no reproductive cost for immature-mated females in terms of longevity, fertility or fecundity. Moreover, most immature-mated females did not produce sex pheromones as adults, so did not seek additional matings. Thus, despite the appearance of conflict there is no evidence that immature-mating is coercive. These results show it is critical to measure fitness outcomes, in addition to behavioural responses, to test for coercion.