Metabolic rates and movements of the male tarantula Aphonopelma anax during the mating season

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Tarantulas exhibit sexual dimorphism in their resting metabolic rate (RMR). The significantly higher RMRs observed in sexually mature males may be an adaptive strategy to support their higher energetic demands when searching for females. In this study, we investigated how intrasexual differences in male RMR may affect their locomotory activity and behavior during the mating season. Over a 2-year period, we radio-tagged male Texas tan tarantulas (Aphonopelma anax (Chamberlin, 1940)), measured their movements, and periodically recorded their metabolic rates in an open-flow respirometery system over the course of the breeding season. Differences found in search speed, search-area size, and movement patterns were not sufficiently explained by the small amount of intrasexual variation exhibited in RMR. Individuals were capable of searching areas up to 29 ha and moved up to 365 m/day. In addition, metabolic rate measured over a 24 h period showed no circadian periodicity and remained constant over the season. Lastly, the body condition of new captures stayed constant throughout the season, corroborating observations of males feeding and drinking.

Les tarentules ont un dimorphisme sexuel de leur taux de métabolisme de repos (RMR). Les RMR significativement plus élevés observés chez les mâles matures sexuellement peuvent représenter une stratégie adaptative pour combler leurs besoins énergétiques accrus lors de la recherche de femelles. Nous examinons, dans notre étude, comment les différences intersexuelles du RMR des mâles peuvent affecter leur activité et leur comportement locomoteurs durant la saison de reproduction. Sur une période de 2 ans, nous avons muni des mâles de la mygale brune du Texas Aphonopelma anax (Chamberlin, 1940) d’étiquettes radio, mesuré leurs déplacements et enregistré périodiquement leurs taux métaboliques dans un système de respirométrie en circuit ouvert au cours de la saison de reproduction. Les différences observées dans la vitesse de recherche, la taille de la surface de recherche et les patrons de déplacement ne sont pas suffisamment expliquées par la petite quantité de variation de RMR entre les sexes. Les individus sont capables de faire des recherches sur des surfaces pouvant atteindre 29 ha et se déplacent de jusqu’à 365 m/jour. De plus, le taux métabolique mesuré sur une période de 24 h ne montre aucune périodicité circadienne et demeure constant au cours de la saison. Enfin, la condition corporelle des nouvelles captures demeure constante au cours de la saison, ce qui corrobore nos observations sur l’alimentation et l’ingestion d’eau des mâles.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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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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