Male spiders caring for youngsters


This video says about itself:

5 December 2016

Rafael Rios Moura says spider moms handle most of the parental care, but not the Manogea porracea species he studied. Both spider parents take responsibility to protect their egg sac. Linda Rayor of Cornell University said, “To the best of my knowledge, there really aren’t other examples where male spiders step up to care for young or eggs.” Sometimes at the cost of their own lives, male Manogea porracea switch from solitary life to a dad-web upstairs, brushing rainwater off egg sacs. Moura hypothesizes that the females are very delicious to predators considering that many females disappeared by the end of breeding season.

From Science News:

First spider superdads discovered
Males give up solitary life to protect egg sacs, spiderlings — often as single parent

By Susan Milius

9:00am, December 5, 2016

The first normally solitary spider to win Dad of the Year sets up housekeeping in a web above his offspring and often ends up as their sole defender and single parent.

Moms handle most parental care known in spiders, says Rafael Rios Moura at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil. But either or both parents care for egg sacs and spiderlings in the small Manogea porracea species he and colleagues studied in a eucalyptus plantation. The dad builds a dome-shaped web above the mom’s web, and either parent will fight hungry invaders looking for baby-spider lunch. In webs with no parents, only about four spiderlings survived per egg sac. But with dad, mom or both on duty, survival more than doubled, the researchers report in the January 2017 Animal Behaviour.

“To the best of my knowledge, there really aren’t other examples where male spiders step up to care for young or eggs,” says Linda Rayor of Cornell University, who has studied spider maternal care. In a group-living Stegodyphus species, some of the males in a communal web will attack intruders, but Manogea dads do much more. They switch from solitary life to a dad-web upstairs, brush rainwater off egg sacs and share defense, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

Many male web-building spiders stop feeding as adults because they’re out searching for mates instead of catching food with their web, Moura says. Manogea males, however, stick with a female they mated with and build a new food-catching web. Now Moura would like to know whether such commitment makes males unusually choosy about females, he says.

To predators, females “must be very delicious,” Moura says. In the wild he found that many females disappeared, probably eaten, by the end of the breeding season, leaving dads as the sole protector for 68 percent of the egg sacs.

That high female mortality could have been important for evolution of the dads’ care-taking, says behavioral ecologist Eric Yip of Penn State. Just why this species has such high female mortality puzzles him, though.  Females, geared up for egg-laying, have rich nutrient stores. Yet, he says, “that’s generally true for all spiders — that females are going to be more nutritious and males are going to be mostly legs.”

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5 thoughts on “Male spiders caring for youngsters

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