Spiders and Ants

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Jumping spider’s use of myrmecomorphy clouds distinction between aggressive and Batesian mimicry :

Jumping spider’s use of myrmecomorphy clouds distinction between aggressive and Batesian mimicry By Ash Hoque

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Aggressive mimics fool their prey by imitating harmless species. Batesian mimics delude predators by imitating the warning signals of harmful species. Yellow Jacket: Left ( Model ) Clear wing moth : Right ( Mimic )

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Interspecific resemblance is exhibited by many different organisms. Epitomes of Batesian mimicry bear warning signals of models to discourage predation from common predators. These warning signals include repulsive skin, venom, weapons and other traits that are used to forfend predators.

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Salticidae or jumping spider family belong to the phylum Arthropoda . The salticid genus Myrmarachne exhibits myrmecomorphy, an anomaly in which organisms mimic ants morphologically and/or behaviorally.

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Myrmarachne melanotarsa, an ant-like jumping spider exhibits both aggressive and Batesian mimicry. M. melanotarsa often preys on the eggs and juveniles of ant opposing salticid species.

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Ants are well protected against most salticids and often use them for food. Salticids often prey on arthropods from the same family ( Salticidae ). Salticids have extraordinary visual acuity and identify the ants by their appearance, in an effort to avoid predation. Ant-like salticids from the genus Myrmarachne are also avoided by these salticids .

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M. melanotarsa’s approach is scare off the parental ant opposing salticid in order to ransack nests for the eggs and “post-embryos .” M. melanotarsa is araneophagic, or preferable preys on spiders.

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The hypothesis is that for M. melanotarsa, the discrepancy between aggressive and Batesian mimicry is obscured. It is predicted that Menemerus females will desert their nests containing post-embryos when they observe ants and that they will also desert their nests when they see M. melanotarsa , for they will not be able to discriminate between the two. This was tested by placing a female Menemerus sp., an ant-averse salticids species, and their young offspring within visual distance of M. melanotarsa , its model and several non-ant-like arthropods.

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Upon noticing ants or ant mimics, Menemerus females deserted their infants more often than when observing non-ant-like arthropods or in control tests where no arthropods were present . This was predicted by the hypothesis that M. melanotarsa mimics ants as a predatory tactic.

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The black shows number of times the Menemerus was found outside the nest, and grey shows the number of times it was inside the nest .

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Another instance in which the discrepancy between Aggressive and Batesian mimicry is made indistinct is shown in a recent study of fangblennies (Cote & Cheney 2007). The fangblenny resembles a cleaner fish in order to safely approach the host fish, rather than eating the host’s parasites, the fangblenny eats the host. Resembling the cleaner fish also has a custodial purpose, as host fish are hesitant to fully strike back against what they feel is an insubordinate cleaner fish.

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Fangblenny : Right Cleaner Fish : Left

References:

References Nelson X. J., Jackson R. R. 2009. Aggressive use of Batesian mimicry by an ant-like jumping spider. Biology Letter 5: 755–757. Huang J., Cheng R., Li D., Tso I. 2010. Salticid predation as one potential driving force of ant mimicry in jumping spiders. Proceedings Of The Royal Society Biological Sciences 278: 1356-1364

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