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Curr Biol. 2013 Jan 21;23(2):172-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.057. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

A color-mediated mutualism between two arthropod predators.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Tunghai University, Taichung 40704, Taiwan.


The nature of interactions between animals varies depending on local selection pressure, trophic status of the participants, and evolutionary circumstances. Body coloration and other visual signals may also affect animal interactions. Game theory posits that if one species provides a "service" in exchange for a "goods," a mutualism may ensue. Mutualisms between two predators are rare because of multiple conflicts of interests (but see [11, 12]). We used a nocturnal system traditionally considered kleptoparasitic to determine whether a mutualism ensues because the body coloration of the kleptoparasite is beneficial to the host. Specifically, we tested whether the silver body of the spider Argyrodes fissifrons (Theridiidae) attracts prey for the larger, duller spider Cyrtophora unicolor (Araneidae), which reciprocates by allowing A. fissifrons access to its web. When A. fissifrons were removed from C. unicolor webs, the webs intercepted fewer prey. Furthermore, covering the silver body parts of A. fissifrons also resulted in a reduction in prey interception by C. unicolor webs. We thus show that a mutualism between two arthropod predators can be mediated by the coloration of one species enhancing the foraging gains of another.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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