Weaponry, color, and contest success in the jumping spider Lyssomanes viridis.
Weaponry and color badges are commonly theorized to function as visual signals of aggressiveness or fighting ability. However, few studies have supported a signaling function of weaponry, and the role of color in invertebrate competitive interactions remains virtually unexplored. Jumping spiders (Salticidae) make excellent invertebrate models for studying weaponry and color because males of many species are colorful and possess exaggerated chelicerae, which are used as weapons in escalated contests. To determine whether color or weaponry might function as visual signals in male-male competitions, we investigated relationships between contest success, cheliceral length, and red coloration in Lyssomanes viridis. Males having longer chelicerae than their opponents were significantly more likely to win (p=0.0008). Males who won, despite being smaller than their opponents, had significantly less red chelicerae than their opponents (p=0.01). Male and female cheliceral length, as well as foreleg length, correlated tightly with body size. Cheliceral and foreleg length showed significantly stronger positive allometry in males than in females. We conclude that male chelicerae and forelegs are under strong positive selection for their use in physical fights and/or as visual signals of fighting ability.
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