Correlated evolution between coloration and ambush site in predators with visual prey lures

Felipe M. Gawryszewski, Miguel A. Calero-Torralbo, Rosemary G. Gillespie, Miguel A. Rodríguez-Gironés, Marie E. Herberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The evolution of a visual signal will be affected by signaler and receiver behavior, and by the physical properties of the environment where the signal is displayed. Crab spiders are typical sit-and-wait predators found in diverse ambush sites, such as tree bark, foliage, and flowers. Some of the flower-dweller species present a UV+-white visual lure that makes them conspicuous and attractive to their prey. We hypothesized that UV+-white coloration was associated with the evolution of a flower-dwelling habit. In addition, following up on results from a previous study we tested whether the UV+-white coloration evolved predominantly in flower-dwelling species occurring in Australia. We measured the reflectance of 1149 specimens from 66 species collected in Australia and Europe, reconstructed a crab spider phylogeny, and applied phylogenetic comparative methods to test our hypotheses. We found that the flower-dwelling habit evolved independently multiple times, and that this trait was correlated with the evolution of the UV+-white coloration. However, outside Australia non-flower-dwelling crab spiders also express a UV+-white coloration. Therefore, UV+-white reflectance is probably a recurring adaptation of some flower dwellers for attracting pollinators, although it may have other functions in non-flower dwellers, such as camouflage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2021
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • camouflage
  • crab spider
  • evolutionary convergence
  • sensory drive
  • thomisidae
  • ultraviolet
  • visual signal

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