Female fecundity and offspring survival are not increased through sexual cannibalism in the spider Larinioides sclopetarius

S. A. Deventer*, M. E. Herberstein, D. Mayntz, J. C. O'Hanlon, J. M. Schneider

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Many hypotheses explaining the evolution and maintenance of sexual cannibalism incorporate the nutritional aspect of the consumption of males. Most studies have focused on a fecundity advantage through consumption of a male; however, recent studies have raised the intriguing possibility that consumption of a male may also affect offspring quality. In particular, recent studies suggest prolonged survival for offspring from sexually cannibalistic females. Here, we measured the protein and lipid content of males compared to insect prey (crickets), quantified female nutrient intake of both prey types and finally assessed how sexual cannibalism affects female fecundity and spiderling quality in the orb-web spider Larinioides sclopetarius. We found no evidence that sexual cannibalism increased fecundity when compared to a female control group fed a cricket. Contrary to previous studies, spiderlings from females fed a male showed reduced survival under food deprivation compared to spiderlings from the control group. Offspring from females fed a male also tended to begin web construction sooner. The low lipid content of males compared to crickets may have reduced offspring survival duration. Whether additional proteins obtained through consumption of a male translate to enhanced silk production in offspring requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2146-2155
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • feeding ecology
  • nutrition
  • offspring quality
  • spider silk
  • web building

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