The jumping spider genus Habronattus currently includes 103 described species, distributed from Canada to Central America, including the Caribbean (Griswold 1987; World Spider Catalog V18.0). Adult male Habronattus are remarkable for diverse and intricate morphological ornamentation, and multimodal sexual displays with both visual and acoustic, vibratory components. Despite the complexity of ornamentation and multimodal display, Habronattus mating behaviors and mate preferences in many ways appear to facilitate hybridization and mating across species boundaries. Potentially “leaky” prezygotic isolation, in combination with evidence for weak postzygotic isolation, suggest that opportunities for interspecific gene flow might be common in Habronattus. Habronattus represents a diverse and intriguing system where prezyotic isolation via female mate choice appears to be a primary isolating mechanism, facilitated by high visual acuity and complex, multimodal courtship ornaments and behaviors. However, instead of paradigmatic “strong sexual selection acting to isolate”, female preferences in Habronattus appear “open”, to greater or lesser degrees across species and over time. We will examine mating interactions between heterospecifics to understand its behavioral drivers and courtship traits that drive this pattern using behavioral experiments. Specifically, we will ask whether hybridization is best explained by errors in species recognition or selection for novel phenotypes.
Both in person and remote opportunities will be available.
Undergraduates will assist in lab colony maintenece, video and acoustic analysis, and assist in behavioral experiments.
Lab experience recommended but not necessary. Courswork in Animal Behavior and/or Evolution suggested.