Cryptic female choice within the genus argiope: A comparative approach

Jutta Schneider*, Gabriele Uhl, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The orb-web spider genus Argiope (Araneae) offers an excellent opportunity to detect cryptic female choice and to identify the species-specific traits that might lead to its evolution and maintenance. All studied species of the genus Argiope are characterized by low male mating rates. While males of some species are strictly mono- or bigynous, others plastically switch between these two strategies. All studied species show sexual cannibalism during copulation. Generally, males die after their second copulation, but the probability of surviving the first copulation differs considerably between species and so does copulation duration. Males of most species break off pieces of their genitalia during copulation that act as mating plugs, but how often this occurs and how effective these plugs are is highly variable. Females that mate multiply can influence the relative paternity success of males through their partial control of copulation duration and their likely control of sperm storage. There is evidence that females cryptically favor small males over large ones, unrelated males over siblings, and males that courted over those that do not. We will sketch variation within and between species in mating systems and related traits, and we will discuss how this relates to cryptic female choice. We will review the existing evidence for cryptic female choice and suggest future avenues in elucidating possible mechanisms that facilitate cryptic female choice and the cues that females may base their choices on.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCryptic Female Choice in Arthropods
Subtitle of host publicationPatterns, Mechanisms and Prospects
EditorsAlfredo V. Peretti, Anita Aisenberg
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319178943
ISBN (Print)9783319178936
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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