Data from: The shield effect: nuptial gifts protect males against precopulatory sexual cannibalism
Toft, Søren; Albo, Maria Jose (2016), Data from: The shield effect: nuptial gifts protect males against precopulatory sexual cannibalism, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q5m84
Several not mutually exclusive functions have been ascribed to nuptial gifts across different taxa. Although the idea that a nuptial prey gift may protect the male from pre-copulatory sexual cannibalism is attractive, it has previously been considered of no importance based on indirect evidence and rejected by experimental tests. We reinvestigated whether nuptial gifts may function as a shield against female attacks during mating encounters in the spider Pisaura mirabilis and whether female hunger influences the likelihood of cannibalistic attacks. The results showed that pre-copulatory sexual cannibalism was enhanced when males courted without a gift and this was independent of female hunger. We propose that the nuptial gift trait has evolved partly as a counteradaptation to female aggression in this spider species.