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study: Chemically mediated burrow recognition in Brachypelma vagans

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  • study: Chemically mediated burrow recognition in Brachypelma vagans

    Hi all,

    an interesting study:
    • DOR, A., S. MACHKOUR-M’RABET, L. LEGAL, T. WILLIAMS & Y. HÉNAUT (200: Chemically mediated burrow recognition in the Mexican tarantula Brachypelma vagans female. Naturwissenschaften 95: 1189-1193.

      Chemically mediated communication is common in spiders but has been poorly studied in burrowing tarantulas. This study aimed to determine whether chemical cues influence the behaviour of females of Brachypelma vagans, a Mexican species of tarantula, during encounters with previously inhabited burrows or with extracts from the silk of conspecific females. In laboratory choice tests, female tarantulas entered a burrow that had previously been inhabited by a conspecific female significantly more frequently than a burrow that had never been inhabited. The identity of the previous inhabitant also affected the number of spiders that chose to enter a burrow. Spiders were quicker to choose and enter a burrow previously inhabited by themselves than a burrow previously inhabited by a conspecific or a burrow that had not been previously inhabited. Hexane, methanol and dichloromethane extracts of conspecific silk elicited different responses from female tarantulas when extracts were placed on filter paper disks at one end of an experimental arena with a control filter paper disk, on to which the corresponding solvent alone had been pipetted, placed on the other end of the arena. Spiders showed the strongest responses to hexane extracts of silk, with a significant preference to move towards the hexane extract and a significantly greater period of time spent in proximity to the hexane extract compared to the control disk. Overall and in contrast to expectations, tarantulas were most strongly attracted to the cues left by other conspecific females. As encounters between B. vagans females usually lead to aggression and mortality of one of the participants, we conclude that chemical cues are not signals that are deliberately released by burrow-inhabiting females but may inadvertently escape and cannot be easily suppressed.

    all the best,
    »ARACHNE« – The Journal of the German Arachnology Society