Comparative biology of cave-dwelling spitting spiders (Araneae: Scytodidae): parental care, cooperative prey-capture, cannibalism, natal dispersal and reproductive behaviour

Please be informed of this newly published journal article by RMBR research associate Associate Professor Li Daiqin in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Associate Professor Li Daiqin

Yap, L.-M. Y. L., Y. Norma-Rashid, F. Liu, J. Liu, D. Li (2011) Comparative biology of cave-dwelling spitting spiders (Araneae: Scytodidae): parental care, cooperative prey-capture, cannibalism, natal dispersal and reproductive behaviour. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 59(2): 269-284.

Its abstract as follows:

Caves are among the most fascinating environments on Earth. Specialised cave biota provides evidence of evolutionary adaptations for living under severe conditions. However, little attention has been paid to the behaviour of cave spiders. In this study, we compared life history, including maternal care, cooperative prey-capture, tolerance among siblings, and reproductive behaviour, of fi ve cave spitting spiders (Scytodidae). Scytodes magna and Guangxi Scyloxes sp. 1 occur exclusively in the aphotic zone, whereas Scytodes fusca, S. cavernarum and the Philippines Scytodes sp. 2 are usually found relatively close to cave entrances, known as the light zone. Like in other typical spitting spiders, females of S. fusca, S. cavernarum and the Philippines Scytodes sp. 2 carry their egg-sacs with their chelicerae. However, here we document for the first time that S. magna and Guangxi Scyloxes sp. 1 females do not carry their egg-sacs in their chelicerae. We found that, instead, they hang their egg-sacs on their webs, which is for the first time ocumented in scytodids. Although S. fusca is a widespread species that inhabits a wide range of habitats, we document for the first time that this species also lives in caves. The five species we studied can each be characterized as being non-social, but we found a few traits that deviate from the typical solitary characteristics. These include late natal dispersal in Guangxi Scyloxes sp. 1 spiderlings and low fecundity in S. cavernarum. We discuss possible explanations for the solitary habits adopted by the species we studied.

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