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Vol. 59, No. 4, 2002
Issue release date: 2002

Multisensory Cues and Multimodal Communication in Spiders: Insights from Video/Audio Playback Studies

Uetz G.W. · Roberts J.A.
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Abstract

Spiders perceive the world using multiple sensory modes, including vibration, vision, and chemical senses, for prey detection and communication. These sensory modes are used in many communication contexts, either individually or in multimodal signaling. Selection for effective signaler-receiver communication and species discrimination is especially strong for these predatory and potentially cannibalistic arthropods, resulting in the evolution of considerable diversity in signaling behaviors. In this paper, we review sensory mechanisms involved in spider signaling and present an overview of recent work done on wolf spiders (Lycosidae) that use multimodal communication (simultaneous visual and vibratory signals) in sexual signals during courtship. The relative importance of visual and vibratory signaling modes, and the use of multiple modes varies among closely related species in the genus Schizocosa, providing a model system for investigating multisensory guidance of complex behavior. Here we examine previous and current research on responses of female spiders to components of male courtship behavior, using several experimental techniques including cue isolation (single sensory modes), video/audio digitization and playback, and cue-conflict (mixed conspecific/heterospecific components) to tease apart elements of multimodal signaling.



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