Behavioral plasticity is an important condition facilitating adaptation and rapid responses to novel conditions as for example through global change. However, plastic responses require decisions that adequately integrate the individual state and information extracted from the environment. Such decision-making processes occur in various contexts, as for example predator avoidance, foraging and mating, which have in common that they contain a large enough uncertainty to render hard-wired solutions unsuitable. Relatively few studies investigated flexible decision making processes in a mating context while considering genetic differences in plasticity and the signals or cues which are the base of behavioral plasticity. We propose to address these questions using a natural model system which is experimentally accessibly and has a distribution that covers several environmental conditions. The orb-web spider Argiope bruennichi has recently expanded its range and successfully colonized new habitats. Phylogeography, population genetics, the mating system and behavior of the species are well known. Differences in phenology across the species range result in different spatial and temporal selection regimes relevant to tractable differences in optimal mating strategies of males. Males of A. bruennichi are adapted to very low mating rates and follow mono- or bigynous mating strategies that they plastically and adaptively adjust to prevailing conditions. The proposed project will integrate several levels of research and shall provide insights into (i) geographical differences in mating strategies, quality thresholds and the underlying phenotypic variation; (ii) the differential use of personal information as a base for mating and life-history decisions and (iii) the potential relevance of genotype by environment interactions on the expression of life-history traits responsible for selection regimes and fitness returns of mating strategies.
- Dauer: 2014-2017
- Drittmittelgeber: DFG