Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 59, No. 4, 2002
Issue release date: 2002
Brain Behav Evol 2002;59:222–230

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

Uetz G.W. · Roberts J.A.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


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.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Ayyagari, L.R., and W.J. Tietjen (1987) Preliminary isolation of male-inhibitory pheromone of the spider Schizocosa ocreata (Araneae, Lycosidae). J. Chem. Ecol., 13: 237–244.
  2. Barth, F.G. (1982) Spiders and vibratory signals: sensory reception and behavioral significance. In Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.W. Witt and J.S. Rovner), Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, pp. 67–120.
  3. Barth, F.G. (1985) Neurobiology of Arachnids. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  4. Barth, F.G. (1993) Sensory guidance in spider pre-copulatory behaviour. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A, 104: 717–733.

    External Resources

  5. Barth, F.G. (2002) A Spider’s World: Senses and Behavior. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany.
  6. Barth, F.G., and A. Holler (1999) Dynamics of arthropod filiform hairs. V. The response of spider trichobothria to natural stimuli. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B., 354: 183–192.
  7. Clark, D.L., and C.L. Morjan (2001) Attracting female attention: the evolution of dimorphic courtship displays in the jumping spider Maevia inclemens (Araneae: Salticidae). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B, 268: 2461–2645.
  8. Clark, D.L., and G.W. Uetz (1990) Video image recognition by jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). Anim. Behav., 40: 884–890.
  9. Clark, D.L., and G.W. Uetz (1992) Morph-independent mate selection in a dimorphic jumping spider: Demonstration of movement bias in female choice using video-controlled courtship behavior. Anim. Behav., 43: 247–254.
  10. Costa, F.G., C. Viera, and G. Francescoli (1997) Male sexual behavior elicited by a hybrid pheromone: a comparative study on Lycosa thorelli, L. carbonelli, and their hybrid progeny. Can. J. Zool., 75: 1845–1856.
  11. D’Eath, R.B. (1998) Can video images imitate real stimuli in animal behaviour experiments? Biol. Rev., 73: 267–292.
  12. Endler, J. A. (1992) Signals, signal conditions and the direction of evolution. Am. Nat., 139: S125–S153.

    External Resources

  13. Endler, J.A., and A.L. Basolo (1998) Sensory ecology, receiver biases and sexual selection. Trends Ecol. Evol., 13: 415–420.
  14. Fleishman, L.J., W.J. McClintock, R.B. D’Eath, D.H. Brainard, and J.A. Endler (1998) Colour perception and the use of video playback experiments in animal behaviour. Anim. Behav., 56: 1035–1040.
  15. Foelix, R. (1996) Biology of Spiders. (2nd ed.) Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA.
  16. Forster, L. (1982) Visual communication in jumping spiders (Salticidae). In Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.W. Witt and J.S. Rovner), Princeton Univ. Press., Princeton, NJ, pp. 161–212.
  17. Forster, L. (1985) Target discrimination in jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). In Neurobiology of Arachnids (ed. by F.G. Barth), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 249–274.
  18. Guilford, T., and M. Stamp Dawkins (1991) Receiver psychology and the evolution of animal signals. Anim. Behav., 42: 1–14.
  19. Hasson, O. (1997) Towards a general theory of biological signaling. J. Theor. Biol., 185: 139–156.

    External Resources

  20. Haynes, K.F., and K.V. Yeargan (1999) Exploitation of intraspecific communication systems: Illicit signalers and receivers. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am., 92: 960–970.
  21. Hebets, E.A., and G.W. Uetz (1999) Female responses to isolated signals from multi-modal male courtship displays in the wolf spider genus Schizocosa (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim. Behav., 57: 865–872.
  22. Hebets, E.A., and G.W. Uetz (2000) Leg ornamentation and the efficacy of courtship display in four species of wolf spider (Araneae: Lycosidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 47: 280–286.
  23. Jackson, R.R. (1982) The behaviour of communicating in jumping spiders (Salticidae). In Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.W. Witt and J.S. Rovner) Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, pp. 213–245.
  24. Jackson, R.R. (1987) Comparative study of releaser pheromones associated with the silk of jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). New Zealand J. Zool., 14: 1–10.
  25. Johnstone, R.A. (1995) Honest advertisement of multiple qualities using multiple signals. J. Theor. Biol., 177: 87–94.
  26. Kotiaho, J.S. (2000) Testing the assumptions of conditional handicap theory: costs and condition dependence of a sexually selected trait. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 48: 188–194.
  27. Krafft, B. (1982) The significance and complexity of communication in spiders. In Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.W. Witt and J.S. Rovner), Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 17–66.
  28. Kronstedt, T. (1996) Vibratory communication in the wolf spider Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata (Araneae: Lycosidae). Rev. Suisse Zool., vol. hors serie: 341–354.
  29. Kunzler, R., and T.C.M. Bakker (1999) Computer animations as a tool in the study of mating preferences. Behaviour, 135: 1137–1159.
  30. Land, M.F. (1985) The morphology and optics of spider eyes. In Neurobiology of Arachnids (ed. by F.G. Barth), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 53–78.
  31. McClintock, W.J., and G.W. Uetz (1996) Female choice and pre-existing bias: visual cues during courtship in two Schizocosa wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim. Behav., 52: 167–181.
  32. Miller, G.L., G.E. Stratton, P.E. Miller, and E.A. Hebets (1998) Geographic variation in male courtship behavior and sexual isolation in wolf spiders of the genus Schizocosa. Anim. Behav., 56: 937–951.
  33. Møller, A.P., and A. Pomiankowski (1993) Why have birds got multiple sexual ornaments? Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 32: 167–176.
  34. Oliveira, R.F., G.G. Rosenthal, I. Schlupp, P.K. McGregor, I.C. Cuthill, J.A. Endler, L.J. Fleishman, J. Zeil, E. Barata, F. Burford, D. Goncalves, M. Haley, S. Jakobsson, M.D. Jennions, K.E. Korner, L. Lindstrom, T. Peake, A. Pilastro, D.S. Pope, S.G.B. Roberts, C. Rowe, J. Smith, and J.R. Waas (2000) Considerations on the use of video playbacks as visual stimuli: the Lisbon workshop consensus. Acta Ethol., 3: 61–65.
  35. Papke, M.D., S.E. Riechert, and S. Schulz (2001) An airborne female pheromone associated with male attraction and courtship in a desert spider. Anim. Behav., 61: 877–886.
  36. Parri, S., R.V. Alatalo, J. Kotiaho, and J. Mappes (1997) Female choice for male drumming in the wolf spider Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata. Anim Behav., 53: 305–312.
  37. Parten, S., and P. Marler (1999) Communication goes multimodal. Science, 283: 1272–1273.
  38. Persons, M.H., and G.W. Uetz (1996a) The influence of sensory information on patch residence time in wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim. Behav., 51: 1285–1293.
  39. Persons, M.H., and G.W. Uetz (1996b) Wolf spiders vary patch residence time in the presence of chemical cues from prey (Araneae, Lycosidae). J. Arachnol., 24: 76–79.
  40. Persons, M.H., and G.W. Uetz (1997) The effect of prey movement on attack behavior and patch residence decision rules of wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Insect Behav., 10: 737–752.
  41. Persons, M.H., S.E. Walker, A.L. Rypstra, and S.D. Marshall (2001) Wolf spider predator avoidance tactics and survival in the presence of diet-associated predator cues (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim. Behav. 61: 43–51.

    External Resources

  42. Pollard, S.D., A.M. Macnab, and R.R. Jackson (1987) Communication with chemicals: pheromones and spiders. In Ecophysiology of Spiders (ed. by W. Nentwig), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 133–141.
  43. Punzo, F., and O. Kukoyi (1997) The effects of prey chemical cues on patch residence time in the wolf spider Trochosa parthenus (Chamberlin) (Lycosidae) and the lynx spider Oxyopes salticus Hentz (Oxyopidae). Bull. Br. Arachnol. Soc., 10: 323–326.
  44. Richman, D., and R.R. Jackson (1992) A review of the ethology of jumping spiders. Bull. Br. Arachnol. Soc., 9: 33–37.
  45. Roland, C. (1984) Chemical signals bound to the silk in spider communication (Arachnida, Araneae). J. Arachnol., 11: 309–314.
  46. Rovner, J.S. (1967) Acoustic communication in a lycosid spider (Lycosa rabida Walckenaer). Anim. Behav., 15: 273–281.

    External Resources

  47. Rovner, J.S. (1968) An analysis of display in the lycosid spider Lycosa rabida Walckenaer. Anim. Behav., 16: 358–369.

    External Resources

  48. Rovner, J.S. (1975) Sound production by Nearctic wolf spiders: a substratum-coupled stridulatory mechanism. Science, 190: 1309–1310.
  49. Rovner, J.S. (1989) Wolf spiders lack mirror-image responsiveness seen in jumping spiders. Anim. Behav., 38: 526–533.
  50. Rovner, J.S. (1993) Visually mediated responses in the lycosid spider Rabidosa rabida: the roles of different pairs of eyes. Mem. Queensland Mus., 33: 635–638.
  51. Rovner, J.S. (1996) Conspecific interactions in the lycosid spider Rabidosa rabida: the roles of different senses. J. Arachnol., 24: 16–23.
  52. Rovner, J.S., and F.G. Barth (1981) Vibratory communication through living plants by a tropical wandering spider. Science, 214: 464–466.
  53. Scheffer, S.J., G.W. Uetz, and G.E. Stratton (1996) Sexual selection, male morphology, and the efficacy of courtship signalling in two wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 38: 17–24.
  54. Schulz, S., and S. Toft (1993) Identification of a sex pheromone from a spider. Science, 260: 1635–1637.
  55. Stowe, M.K., J.H. Tumlinson, and R.R. Heath (1987) Chemical mimicry: bolas spiders emit components of moth prey species sex pheromones. Science, 236: 964–967.
  56. Stratton, G.E. (1997) Investigation of species divergence and reproductive isolation of Schizocosa stridulans (Araneae, Lycosidae) from Illinois. Bull. Br. Arachnol. Soc., 10: 313–321.
  57. Stratton, G.E., and G.W. Uetz (1981) Acoustic communication and reproductive isolation in two species of wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Science, 214: 575–577.
  58. Stratton, G.E., and G.W. Uetz (1983) Communication via substratum-coupled stridulation and reproductive isolation in wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim. Behav., 31: 164–172.
  59. Stratton, G.E., and G.W. Uetz (1986) The inheritance of courtship behavior and its role as a reproductive isolating mechanism in two species of Schizocosa wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Evolution, 40: 129–141.
  60. Suter, R.B., and G. Renkes (1982) Linyphiid spider courtship: releaser and attractant functions of a contact sex pheromone. Anim. Behav., 30: 714–718.
  61. Tietjen, W.J., and J.S. Rovner (1980) Trail-following behavior in two species of wolf spiders: sensory and etho-ecological concomitants. Anim. Behav., 28: 735–741.
  62. Tietjen, W.J., and J.S. Rovner (1982) Chemical communication in lycosids and other spiders. In Spider Communication Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.N. Witt and J.S. Rovner), Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 249–279.
  63. Trabalon, M., A.G. Bagneres, and C. Roland (1997) Contact sex signals in two sympatric spider species, Tegenaria domestica and Tegenaria pagana. J. Chem. Ecol., 23: 747–758.
  64. Uetz, G.W. (2000) Signals and multi-modal signalling in spider communication. In Animal Signals: Signaling and Signal Design in Animal Communication (ed. by Y. Espmark, T. Amundsen and G. Rosenqvist), Tapir Publishers, Trondheim, Norway, pp. 387–405.
  65. Uetz, G.W., and G.J. Denterlein (1979) Courtship behavior, habitat, and reproductive isolation in Schizocosa rovneri (Uetz and Dondale) (Araneae: Lycosidae). J. Arachnol., 7: 86–88.
  66. Uetz, G.W., and E.I. Smith (1999) Asymmetry in a visual signaling character and sexual selection in a wolf spider. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 45: 87–93.
  67. Uetz, G.W., and G.E. Stratton (1982) Acoustic communication in spiders. In Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance (ed. by P.N. Witt and J.S. Rovner), Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 123–159.
  68. Weygoldt, P. (1977) Communication in crustaceans and arachnids. In How Animals Communicate (ed. by T.A. Sebeok), Indiana University Press, IN, pp. 303–333.
  69. Wise, D.S., and J. Wagner (1992) Evidence of exploitative competition among young stages of the wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata. Oecologia, 91: 7–13.
  70. Witt, P.W., and J.S. Rovner, eds. (1982) Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ.
  71. Yeargan, K.V. (1994) Biology of bolas spiders. Ann. Rev. Entomol., 39: 81–99.

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 9.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 8.00