Offspring recognition by mother crab spiders with extreme maternal care

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Abstract

Maternal care is provided by several spider species, but there are no reports of mother spiders recognizing their young, which suggests that maternal care can be exploited by unrelated individuals. Diaea ergandros, a crab spider with extreme, sacrificial maternal care, does accept unrelated spiderlings (ca. 43.9% of spiderlings) into its nest in areas of high nest density. However, a field and a laboratory experiment with mother spiders and natural and adoptive spiderlings demonstrated that mothers did recognize their own offspring. Recognition was not expressed in survival as adopted (unrelated) spiderlings had similar survival rate to that of natural offspring. Instead it was displayed in growth; mother D. ergandros caught large prey items for their own offspring, but not for adopted spiderlings, and so natural offspring grew more than adopted spiderlings. Also, mothers produced trophic oocytes, which are important for the sacrificial care that influences spiderling survival, only when they lived with their own offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London: series B
Volume265
Issue number1391
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

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