Factors influencing the efficacy of bird dropping masquerade in a crab spider
by Long Yu | Xinran Miao | Min Tan | Boon Hui Wong | Eunice J. Tan | Shichang Zhang | Daiqin Li | Hubei University | Australian National University | National University of Singapore | National University of Singapore | Yale-NUS College | Hubei University | National University of Singapore
Abstract ID: 210
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: The evolution of invertebrate sensory ecology and behaviours
Presenter Name: Long Yu

Masquerading prey gain protection from predators by being misidentified as inedible objects such as twigs or bird droppings. Although recent studies have demonstrated that Phrynarachne crab spiders benefit from bird dropping masquerade, the factors influencing the efficacy of their masquerade remain largely unexplored. Phrynarachne spiders possess mosaic white and dark colour patterns, which vary considerably in the proportion and location across and within species. These spiders also vary in body size. Here, we explored whether the white/dark patch proportion and their location on the spider’s body, as well as the size of the spider influence the efficacy of Phrynarachne’s bird dropping masquerade using 3D-printed artificial spider models as prey and naïve spider-eating jumping spiders as predators. Our results confirm the protective function of the bird dropping masquerade. Predators took longer to detect and attack models, and they attacked them less frequently than non-bird dropping-like crab spider models that featured green and white patches. However, prey spider size and their white/dark patch proportion and location had no significant effects on detection time, attack latency, or likelihood of attacks so long as prey spider models possessed a combination of both white and dark patches. Our results therefore suggest that Phrynarachne species may have evolved visual appearance and body size with different white/dark patch proportions and patch locations that confer similar protection through bird dropping masquerade against predators.