In the spider Meta segmentata web site quality and competitive ability determine female distributions, and ultimately male mating strategy. Large, fecund females position their webs in aggregations in high quality habitats, whereas small females live alone in lower quality sites. Competition for web sites is intense. Large females have a fighting advantage, but web ownership can offset size disadvantages of about 10%. Males compete for access to female webs. The smallest males are excluded from aggregations of females but have a very high probability of mating monogamously with females in poor habitats. The largest males move about within aggregations and by mating with many females achieve the highest reproductive gains. Moderately sized males only have a low probability of mating in an aggregation, but for those that do succeed the reproductive gains are higher than for those that mate monogamously in low quality areas. On average, moderately sized males obtain reproductive gains from the high risk, high gain strategy of defending webs in aggregations that are equal to those from definding solitary females in poor areas. That 18 of 21 moderately sized males defend females in aggregations suggests that M. segmentata behaves in a riskprone fashion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology