Selection is expected to favour the evolution of efficacy in visual communication. This extends to deceptive systems, and predicts functional links between the structure of visual signals and their behavioural presentation. Work to date has primarily focused on colour, however, thereby understating the multicomponent nature of visual signals. Here I examined the relationship between signal structure, presentation behaviour, and efficacy in the context of colour-based prey luring. I used the polymorphic orb-web spider Gasteracantha fornicata, whose yellow- or white-and-black striped dorsal colours have been broadly implicated in prey attraction. In a manipulative assay, I found that spiders actively control the orientation of their conspicuous banded signals in the web, with a distinct preference for near-diagonal bearings. Further field-based study identified a predictive relationship between pattern orientation and prey interception rates, with a local maximum at the spiders' preferred orientation. There were no morph-specific effects on capture success, either singularly or via an interaction with pattern orientation. These results reveal a dynamic element in a traditionally ‘static’ signalling context, and imply differential functions for chromatic and geometric signal components across visual contexts. More broadly, they underscore how multicomponent signal designs and display behaviours may coevolve to enhance efficacy in visual deception.
- multicomponent signal