Oh, little spidey pal. We’ve all been there. Kind of.
Of course, the wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata doesn’t have to undergo the torturous embarrassment of doing the ‘wrong’ dance in a misguided attempt to court a mate, or even to win a tv show which probably isn’t fronted by Simon Cowell but I couldn’t be bothered looking that up because REALLY. Further to this, these wolf spiders employ tactics to ensure that they don’t miss an opportunity to impress females they may not have seen, but which are being courted by other males in the vicinity.
A new study published in this month’s issue of the journal ‘Biology Letters’ indicates that males of this species ‘eavesdrop’ on their rivals, as well as engaging in ‘signal matching’. If a wandering male notices that another male is performing a courtship dance, then he may well do the same; while he will incur costs due to the energetic nature of the display, this must be traded off with the potential fitness cost associated with missing a mating opportunity.
However, this isn’t even the coolest part of this study: these male wolf spiders show behavioural plasticity, where they can actually alter their courtship behaviour depending on the behaviour of others, including changing their ‘tapping’ rates based upon that of their rivals! They may be attempting to outcompete, or synchronise with those around them. To continue the tenuous link to ‘talent’ shows etc, it’s not vastly unlike those ‘flash mobs’ that were all the rage a year or two back.
Except far less shit, obviously.
Check out the research here - Clark et al (2005). Eavesdropping and signal matching in visual courtship displays of spiders. Biology Letters.
Original image stolen unceremoniously from Zen Faulkes’ blog, where you should read some cool stuff about females of this species being massive gluttons*.
*so, yeah, the spider in the picture might be a female. I don’t really know how to check spider sex. Spiders are gross anyway. HAH.