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Seismic signals in a courting male jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae)
Damian O. Elias, Andrew C. Mason, Wayne P. Maddison, Ronald R. Hoy


Visual displays in jumping spiders have long been known to be among the most elaborate animal communication behaviours. We now show that one species, Habronattus dossenus, also exhibits an unprecedented complexity of signalling behaviour in the vibratory (seismic) modality. We videotaped courtship behaviour and used laser vibrometry to record seismic signals and observed that each prominent visual signal is accompanied by a subsequent seismic component. Three broad categories of seismic signals were observed (`thumps', `scrapes' and `buzzes'). To further characterize these signals we used synchronous high-speed video and laser vibrometry and observed that only one seismic signal component was produced concurrently with visual signals. We examined the mechanisms by which seismic signals are produced through a series of signal ablation experiments. Preventing abdominal movements effectively `silenced' seismic signals but did not affect any visual component of courtship behaviour. Preventing direct abdominal contact with the cephalothorax, while still allowing abdominal movement, only silenced thump and scrape signals but not buzz signals. Therefore, although there is a precise temporal coordination of visual and seismic signals, this is not due to a common production mechanism. Seismic signals are produced independently of visual signals, and at least three independent mechanisms are used to produce individual seismic signal components.

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