TITLE

Behavioral roles of the sexually dimorphic structures in the male harvestman, Phalangium opilio (Opiliones, Phalangiidae)

AUTHOR(S)
Willemart, Rodrigo H.; Farine, Jean-Pierre; Peretti, Alfredo V.; Gnaspini, Pedro
PUB. DATE
December 2006
SOURCE
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Dec2006, Vol. 84 Issue 12, p1763
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
In various animal species, male sexual dimorphic characters may be used during intrasexual contests as ornaments to attract females, or to hold them before, during, or after copulation. In the well-known harvestman, Phalangium opilio L., 1758, the behavioral functions of these male sexually dimorphic structures have never been studied in detail. Therefore, in addition to a morphometric study, 21 male contests and 43 sexual interactions were analyzed. Our observations revealed that during contests, the male cheliceral horns form a surface by which the contestants use to push each other face-to-face while rapidly tapping their long pedipalps against the pedipalps of the opponent, occasionally twisting the opponent’s pedipalp. Scanning electron micrographs revealed contact mechanoreceptors on the pedipalp that would detect the intensity–frequency of contact with the contender’s pedipalp. Larger males won almost all contests, whereas the loser rapidly fled. During sexual interactions, the longer pedipalps of the male held legs IV of the female, whereas males with shorter pedipalps held the female by legs III. No contact with the male pedipalps and chelicerae by the females was visible before, during, or after copulation. Soon after copulating, males typically bent over the female, positioning their cheliceral horns against the females’s dorsum. Consequently, our data show that the cheliceral horns and the longer pedipalps of the male seem to play an important role, during both intersexual and intrasexual encountering.
ACCESSION #
25437234

 

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