Signal Conflict in webs

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doi: 10.1098/rspb.1998.0530 , 1991-1996 265 1998 Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B T. A. Blackledge Signal conflict in spider webs driven by predators and prey References http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/265/1409/1991#related-urls Article cited in: Email alerting service here right-hand corner of the article or click Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article - sign up in the box at the top http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/subscriptions go to: Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B To subscribe to This journal is © 1998 The Royal Society on November 6, 2010 rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org Downloaded from
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Signal conflict in spider webs driven by predators and prey Todd A. Blackledge Department of Entomology,The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA ( [email protected] ) Variation in the sensory physiologies of organisms can bias the receptions of signals, driving the direction of signal evolution. Sensory drive in the evolution of signals may be particularly important for organisms that confront trade-o¡s in signal design between the need for conspicuousness to allow e¡ective transfer of information and the need for crypsis of the signal to unintended receivers. Several genera of orb- weaving spiders include conspicuous silk designs, stabilimenta, in the centre of their webs. Stabilimenta can be highly visible signals to predators, warning them of the presence of a noxious, sticky silk web. However, stabilimenta can also be used by prey as a signal in avoidance of webs, creating a trade-o¡ in signal visibility. I argue that the derived spectral properties of stabilimentum silk have resulted in part from this con£ict. The innate colour preferences of insects, their ability to learn colours, and the spectral properties of £owers all suggest that the re£ectance spectra of stabilimenta renders them relatively cryptic to many insect prey, while maintaining their visibility to vertebrate predators. Keywords: aposematic; Argiope ; silk; sensory drive; ultraviolet; stabilimenta 1. INTRODUCTION Sensory biases in reception of signals are caused by variation in the sensory physiologies of receivers and can a¡ect the evolution of signal design in a process termed sensory drive (Endler 1978, 1992, 1993 a ; Guilford 1990; Guilford & Dawkins 1991; Fleishman 1992; Ryan & Rand 1993). Sensory drive has been used to account for the diversi¢cation of a variety of visual and vocal signals in vertebrates (Basolo 1990; Endler 1991, 1992; Fleishman 1992; Ryan & Keddy-Hector 1992; Ryan & Rand 1993) and arachnids (Clark & Uetz 1992, 1993; Proctor 1992; McClintock & Uetz 1996). However, most of these studies involved sexual signalling, leaving the role of sensory drive in the evolution of interspeci¢c signals unexplored. Furthermore, the physiological bases of sensory biases have rarely been well documented. Although such study typically demands elaborate experiments to demonstrate sensory biases and to determine the ancestral state of signal features, we already have the relevant data to examine the possible role of sensory biases in the form and function of stabilimenta in the webs of spiders. Stabilimenta are
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