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Volume 83, Issue 2 p. 356-361
Regular Article

TERRITORIALITY IN A CANNIBALISTIC BURROWING WOLF SPIDER

Jordi Moya-Laraño

Jordi Moya-Laraño

Unitat de Zoologia, Departament de Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0091 USA

Present address: Department of Entomology, S-225 Agricultural Science Building–North, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0091 USA. E-mail: [email protected]

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Juan Manuel Orta-Ocaña

Juan Manuel Orta-Ocaña

Unitat de Zoologia, Departament de Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

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José Antonio Barrientos

José Antonio Barrientos

Unitat de Zoologia, Departament de Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

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Carmen Bach

Carmen Bach

Unitat de Zoologia, Departament de Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

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David H. Wise

David H. Wise

Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0091 USA

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First published: 01 February 2002
Citations: 26

Abstract

Field experiments to test the hypothesis that a cannibalistic species is territorial are rare. We conducted two field experiments to test the hypothesis that adult females of the Mediterranean tarantula, Lycosa tarentula (L.) are territorial. In a relatively long-term experiment we placed a female intruder in an artificial burrow within the hypothesized territory of a resident. The intruders disappeared from their burrows at 7× the rate of spiders in a reference and two control treatments. Residency status, not relative size, determined whether the intruder or the resident remained, and evidence suggests that the winner frequently cannibalized the loser. We also conducted a short-term field experiment in which we induced encounters between females. The results were consistent with territorial defense because escalation was more likely if spiders were similar in size, and cannibalism, the outcome of one-third of the encounters, occurred only after escalation. Thus, adult females of the Mediterranean tarantula are territorial, and cannibalism may be a consequence of territorial defense.