Exploring behavioral traits over different contexts in four species of Australian funnel-web spiders

Hernandez Duran, Linda, Wilson, David Thomas, and Rymer, Tasmin Lee (2023) Exploring behavioral traits over different contexts in four species of Australian funnel-web spiders. Current Zoology, 69 (6). pp. 766-774.

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Australian funnel-web spiders are arguably the most venomous spiders in the world, with much research focusing on this aspect of their biology. However, other aspects related to their life history, ecology and behaviour have been overlooked. For the first time, we assessed repeatability, namely risk-taking behaviour, aggressiveness and activity in the contexts of predation, conspecific tolerance and exploration of a new territory in four species of Australian funnel-web spiders: two are closely related, Hadronyche valida and H. infensa, and two have overlapping distributions but occupy different habitats, H. cerberea and Atrax robustus. We also compared behaviors between species. At the species level, we found that H. valida showed consistency in risk-taking behavior when exposed to a predator stimulus, aggressiveness against conspecifics, and exploration of a new territory. In contrast, in the other species, only A. robustus showed repeatability in the context of exploration of a new territory. These results suggest that some behavioral traits are likely more flexible than others, and that the repeatability of behaviors may be species-specific in funnel-webs. When we compared species, we found differences in risk-taking behavior and defensiveness. This study provides novel insights to understanding variation in behavioral traits within and between species of funnel-web spiders, suggesting that some behavioral traits are likely context and/or species dependent, as a result of their evolutionary history. These findings provide key insights for understanding the ecological role of behavior and venom deployment in venomous animals, and a greater understanding of behavior in these medically significant and iconic spiders that are of conservation concern.

Item ID: 76967
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2396-9814
Keywords: arachnids, behavior, ecological contexts, flexibility, mygalomorphae, repeatability
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Editorial Office, Current Zoology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2022 08:18
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310913 Invertebrate biology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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