A male Nephila pilipes spider copulating with a female mate. Photo credit: Li Daiqin
When sexual conflict results in reproductive strategies that only benefit one of the sexes, it may result in evolutionary arms races. Male spiders have evolved behavioural mating strategies to improve their chances of mating despite the risk of being cannibalised by their mates.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered that male spiders make choices on maximising their mating success when they are at risk of being cannibalised by their female mates. Led by Associate Professor Li Daiqin from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, the researchers found that a male chooses one of its paired sexual organs with more sperm for the first copulation with a cannibalistic female. Also, a male transfers significantly more sperm if a female is cannibalistic or when the female is of a much larger physical size.
The study was published in Communications Biology on 2 June 2022.