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Importance of body size and hunting strategy during interactions between the Mexican red-rump tarantula (Brachypelma vagans) and the wolf spider Lycosa subfusca

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Behavioural adaptation helps animals to maximize their ability to obtain food and to avoid being eaten, increasing fitness. To achieve this, they must assess predation risk and evaluate foraging needs simultaneously. In two sympatric spider species, the wandering wolf spider Lycosa subfusca F.O.P. Cambridge, 1902 and the sit-and-wait Mexican red-rump tarantula (Brachypelma vagans Ausserer, 1875), we studied the relationship between predatory behaviour and antipredatory behaviour at different life stages. In the laboratory, encounters were organized between one wolf spider (small, medium-sized, or large) and one tarantula (spiderling, small, medium-sized, or large). Attack latencies and behaviours were recorded. The results showed that wolf spiders attacked and successfully captured younger tarantulas, while they avoided or retreated from older ones. Tarantulas preferentially attacked and captured older wolf spiders. On other hand, younger wolf spiders were more cautious than older ones, which waited until for the tarantulas to attack before retreating. Younger tarantulas were also more cautious than adults, which never retreated from attack and increased their success in attacks with age. Finally, we discuss the relationship between the predatory strategies of both spiders with their perception abilities and life history.
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