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Title: Sex, Size, and Gender Roles
Authors: Wolf U. Blanckenhorn, Daphne J. Fairbairn, Tama´ s Sze´ kely
Keywords: Sexual Size Dimorphism
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Description: In the dry grass of a California meadow, the taut spiral of an orb web catches the early morning sun. A fat, yellow and black spider rests in the middle of the web, a crazy zig-zag of white silk marking the web below her (Figure 1.1). You stop and look more closely. This is a female Argiope aurantia and she is waiting for a morning meal. Her body is almost 20 mm long, and she seems gigantic, with a great round abdomen. Curiously, on the same web a much smaller, thinner, less brightly coloured spider seems to be moving cautiously toward the waiting female. This is a mature male A. aurantia and he is attempting to court the female and induce her to mate with him. He is only a fraction of her size (less than 6 mm long), and would easily make a meal. However, if he is successful in seducing her, he may fertilize all of the 300–400 eggs in her next egg sac, a worthy prize indeed (Foellmer and Fairbairn 2004). This is a dangerous enterprise for him because even if he escapes being eaten he will surely die in the end, spontaneous death during copulation being the fate of males of this species (Foellmer and Fairbairn 2003, 2004). Even to achieve his position close to the center of the web, he has had to battle with other males waiting for the female to become reproductively mature. In this contest, larger males had the advantage (Foellmer and Fairbairn 2005a) and yet all of the males are much smaller than their potential mate. Why is this?
ISBN: 978–0–19–920878–4
Appears in Collections:Gender Studies

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