Publication Date

January 2009

Journal or Book Title

Journal of Insect Behavior


Abstrac.t Our objective was to determine whether an animal’s decisions to cross inhospitable open space are influenced by the visual characteristics of targets it can see across the space. We studied jumping spiders (Salticidae) in the genus Phidippus. We considered the effect of target size (short vs. tall) and distance (close vs. distant) in no-choice experiments. How often spiders approached close targets, regardless of target size, was not significantly different from how often they approached tall, distant targets, but they approached close targets of either size significantly more often than short, distant targets. When presented simultaneously with short, close and tall, distant targets the spiders’ choices did not differ significantly from random. We also tested for the effects of the contrast of targets with their background and found that the spiders crossed open space to reach green, but not white, targets, regardless of background. Finally, spiders were more likely to approach a green grass-like target rather than a target composed of geometric shapes. We conclude that target size, distance and appearance all influence the spiders’ willingness to cross open space.







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