Thermal ecology of male tarantulas (Aphonopelma anax) during the mating season

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Abstract:

During the mating season, male tarantulas abandon their burrows and actively search for widely distributed females, which remain fossorial. As a result, males are exposed to larger fluctuations in environmental conditions without the protection of a permanent retreat. Body temperatures (Tb) of active male tarantulas (Aphonopelma anax) encountered fortuitously in the field ranged from 24.7 to 35.1°C and preferred Tb's measured in a laboratory thermal gradient ranged from 22.1 to 31.3°C. The thermal options available to males at random points in their environment varied substantially throughout the day but temperatures typically exceeded 40°C. In comparison, temperatures within burrows remained below 40°C. Indices calculated from these temperature data suggested that males thermoregulated effectively during the day, while environmental temperatures were within their preferred Tb range at night and so active regulation of Tb was unnecessary. In addition, I determined the exact times that males ceased locomotory activity in the morning (retreat) and when they started activity in the evening (emergence). Data from 23 radio-tagged males indicated that they retreated into temporary burrows between 06:47 and 10:53 CST. Activity commenced again between 16:36 and 20:53 CST as temperatures approached their preferred or selected Tb range.

Durant la saison de la reproduction, les tarentules (Aphonopelma anax) mâles quittent leur terrier et partent à la recherche de femelles qui sont très dispersées et qui demeurent dans leur terrier. Le mâles sont donc exposés à des fluctuations de plus grande amplitude des conditions du milieu sans avoir accès à un refuge permanent. La température du corps (Tb), mesurée chez des mâles actifs rencontrés au hasard en nature, se situe entre 24,7 et 35,1°C et la température Tb préférée, déterminée en laboratoire le long d'un gradient thermique, va de 22,1 à 31,3°C. Les options thermiques offertes aux mâles à des points choisis au hasard dans leur environnement varient de façon importante pendant toute la journée, mais, de façon générale, se situent au-dessus de 40°C. Par comparaison, les températures dans les terriers demeurent en-deçà de 40°C. Les indices calculés à partir de ces données semblent démontrer que les mâles font une thermorégulation active durant le jour et qu'à la nuit, les températures du milieu se situent dans l'étendue des Tb préférées et la thermorégulation active est alors superflue. J'ai déterminé, en outre, les moments exacts de cessation des déplacements le matin (enfouissement) et de reprise de l'activité locomotrice le soir (émergence). Les données recueillies chez 23 mâles marqués indiquent qu'ils regagnent leur terrier entre 06:47 et 10:53 (heure normale du Centre). L'activité reprend entre 16:36 et 20:53, alors que la température du milieu s'approche du registre des températures choisies et préférées.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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