- 1 Introduction
- 2 Australian peacock spider Description
- 3 Australian peacock spider Behaviour
- 4 Sexual selection
- 5 Hunting and diet
- 6 Australian peacock spider Reproduction and the lifecycle
- 7 Distribution and habitat
- 8 Physiology
- 9 Name
Scientific Name: Maratus volans. Also commonly known as the Australian peacock spider and the Sparkle Muffin. This species is part of the jumping spider family (Salticidae) and belongs to the genus Maratus (peacock spiders). These spiders can be located in a variety of habitats and are only native to some areas of Australia. Their specialised vision system allows them to see both the UV range and the visible spectrum. This helps them identify prey and chase them down. The colourful abdomen flaps on males of this species can be seen as a way to draw females during courtship.
Australian peacock spider Description
Both sexes are approximately 5 mm long. Both the females and the immatures are brown, but they have distinct colour patterns that can be distinguished from other species.
Australian peacock spider Behaviour
Red, blue, and black males have flap-like extensions to their abdomens with white hairs that are foldable. These flaps are used to display the male during mating. The male raises his abdomen and then raises the flaps, creating a white-fringed circular field of colour. In this regard, the species and the entire genus Maratus can be compared to peacocks.
For display, the third pair of legs are also raised and show a brush of white tips and black hairs. To attract more attention, these legs can also be used to clap.
The male approaches the female and vibrates his abdomen, waving raised legs and tail and dancing from one side to the other. However, females are attracted more to the visual effects of the males’ dances than to vibrational signals.
The vibrations accompanying the fan dance are an important part of male peacock spider courtship. The exact mechanism of how these vibrations are created is not known, but it is known that they are produced almost solely from fast movements in their abdomen. There are three types of vibrations: rumble-rumps, crunch rolls, and grind-revs.
During courtship, rumble-rumps can be heard continuously and can start even before the male sees a female. Named after the two distinct sounds of the rumble or rump. The crunch rolls and grind-revs are seen right before the pre-mount display.
Males who put forth more effort in both the visual display and the vibratory signalling had higher success in mating. A higher level of measured effort means that you spend more time in the visual display and vibrate with greater vigour.
These are both believed to indicate a more healthy and fit male. Vibratory signalling is more important than visual signals, but visual signs are strongly associated with mating success.
Copulation time for females who choose to mate is positively related to visual signals and vibratory signalling. The female must also be persistent and stay within close proximity to her male partner.
When the male approaches, the female will sometimes signal with her third set of legs that she is interested. They discovered that females are more likely to mate only once.
If the male continues his dance when the female is not interested, she attempts to attack, kill, and feed on him; she may also do this following mating (sexual cannibalism). The male may escape by jumping.
The female Australian peacock spider displays the same behaviour. The behaviour of the female. If the female was not impressed with the male (fewer vibrations, less leg waving), this could also happen. The anti-receptivity signal she gives to males tells them that she isn’t receptive.
Both males and females use this signal. Males will not waste their energy on a female they don’t want. The male’s display is likely to attract predators, so ceasing the performance is likely to protect both the female and male from potential dangers.
Copulation and premount display
The male will approach the female slowly and lower his carapace until they are approximately one-half their length apart. If the female doesn’t flee, he will begin the pre-mount show. As they tremor, the third leg is lowered and spread out.
The male will hold the first leg straight up in front of the female so that it touches the breasts. The male will then move towards the female with his first legs raised in front of him. The pedipalp flicker is not only observed during courtship but can also be observed in other settings like eating.
Chemoreceptors can detect contact pheromones by looking at the legs and palps. These pheromones are released from the abdomen of the female spider and can be used to trigger male courtship, even if there are no visual cues.
Pheromones given off by the female may be an indication of if they are already mated and can hint to any other males whether or not to pursue courtship.
M. M. The mating ritual involves waving and vibrating the female’s third legs for up to four to fifty minutes. Australian peacock spider mating behaviour is an example of runaway sexual selection. M. volans’ mating behaviour is an example of runaway sexual selection in which the male runs the risk of death when trying to mate.
Hunting and diet
Peacock spiders feed primarily on insects and spiders as a diurnal cursorial hunters. Salticids evolved an acute visual system that was used to stalk prey. This development allowed jumping spiders to move freely and experience many different environments than their sit-and-wait ancestors.
Keen eyesight has probably been useful for peacock spiders in navigating, inhabiting and exploiting new types of habitats and undoubtedly set the stage for the evolution of complex visual signals.
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Like other jumping spiders, they do not rely on webs to catch prey. Their keen eyesight allows them to track their prey, then chase after their prey to deliver a fatal bite. They have been observed to jump up to 40 times higher than their body length.
Australian peacock spider Reproduction and the lifecycle
The mature males are active from August through December. However, the females arrive later and live longer. In December, the females will stay hidden in order to lay their eggs and guard them against predators,
The immature female peacock spiders look similar to the adults except that their pedipalps have no colour. The immature male peacock web spiders lack an opisthosomal fan. This is a prominent white margin band at the carapace and specialisation of the legs. The males do not generate their colourful colours until sexual maturity. Their lifespan is reported to be about one year.
The females build underground nests in December where they lay eggs. According to some studies, Volans females can lay 6 to 15 eggs in each clutch.
Distribution and habitat
M. volans is confined to particular parts of Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania). They have a very broad distribution and occupy many various types of environments, unlike different species of Maratus that occupy only a niche territory, like the M. Sarahae.
Peacock spiders live on leaf litter and dry twigs, with the majority of them being ground-dwellers. The females are thought to mimic leaf scars on the dry twigs; however, they can be found in a wide variety of habitats such as sand dunes to grasslands.
Each peacock spider has eight eyes, each with a telephoto, tiered, and UV-sensitive lens. Their size has limited their optical resolution. They can see both the visible spectrum and the UV range thanks to their special visual system.
They have primary eyes that give them acute vision and secondary eyes that help them detect motion. They are able to see well and can be useful in hunting prey.
Male abdomens have scales that produce a well-known colourful display. The special abdominal scales of male peacock spiders have three-dimensional reflective diffraction grating structures that allow them to alter their scales to make them appear green, violet and red. They are able to reflect light in the ultraviolet and visible ranges.
The species was described by Octavius Pickard Cambridge, an English arachnologist. Marek Zabka transferred it to the genus Maratus in 1991. He noted that it was difficult to adequately describe the spider’s stunning colouration.
Volans is the specific name. O.P.-Cambridge stated that the person who sent the specimens to him from New South Wales said that the spiders were using the flaps as wings or support to extend their leaps. The Australasian Arachnological society has disproved this belief.