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Data from: Strategic pheromone signalling by mate searching females of the sexually cannibalistic spider Argiope bruennichi

Citation

Weiss, Katharina; Schneider, Jutta M. (2021), Data from: Strategic pheromone signalling by mate searching females of the sexually cannibalistic spider Argiope bruennichi, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g79cnp5qk

Abstract

Reproduction often requires finding a mating partner. To this end, females of many arthropods advertise their presence to searching males via volatile chemical signals. Such pheromones are considered low-cost signals, although this notion is based on little evidence and has recently been challenged. Even when utilizing comparatively low-cost signals, females should signal as little as possible to minimize costs while still ensuring mate attraction. Here we test the strategic-signalling hypothesis using Argiope bruennichi. In this orb-weaving spider, egg maturation commences with adult moult and females that do not attract a male in time will lay a large batch of unfertilized eggs approximately three weeks after maturation. Using GC-MS analyses, we show that virgin females enhance their signalling effort, i.e. pheromone quantity per unit body weight, with increasing age and approaching oviposition. We further demonstrate that pheromone release is condition dependent, suggesting the occurrence of physiological costs. Mate choice assays revealed that pheromone quantity is the only predictor of female attractiveness for males. In support of the strategic- signalling hypothesis, pheromone signals by female A. bruennichi become stronger with increased need as well as body weight, and might thus also qualify as an honest signal of female quality.