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Sex-specific kleptoparasitic foraging in ant-eating spiders

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  • Martina Martisová, Czech Republic
  • T. Bilde
  • Stano Pekar, Czech Republic
  • Department of Biological Sciences, Genetics and Ecology
Foraging by intraspecific kleptoparasitism is widespread among animal taxa. Most kleptoparasitic interactions are considered facultative, and can be influenced by life history stage and trade-offs with other activities such as mate searching. Trade-offs with mating strategies are often sex specific when males are selected to invest in mate searching while females engage in foraging to maximize fecundity. As a result, sexual dimorphism in opportunistic foraging may evolve, and would predict an ontogenetic shift from the juvenile to the adult stage where males could adopt opportunistic foraging. To investigate this hypothesis, we studied the effect of sex and life history stage on the frequency of kleptoparasitism in ant-eating spiders of the genus Zodarion in the field. These spiders use a special capture technique involving a quick attack on an ant that is left unguarded by spiders for several minutes, providing ample opportunities for kleptoparasitism. We found that adult females consistently hunted actively, while adult males ceased active prey capture and instead engaged in kleptoparasitism. Juvenile spiders were active hunters irrespective of sex. Consistent with an ontogenetic shift in foraging behaviour from hunting to kleptoparasitism in males, males preferred to feed on dead (freshly killed) prey while females preferred live prey. Furthermore, males experienced a decline in prey capture rate compared with females and juveniles. Kleptoparasitism in males was accompanied by inspection of female foraging sites, suggesting that males cease active prey capture and maximize mating opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Pages (from-to)1115-1118
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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