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Captivating color: evidence for optimal stimulus design in a polymorphic prey lure
  • Darrell Kemp,
  • Will Edwards,
  • Thomas White
Darrell Kemp
Macquarie University
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Will Edwards
James Cook University
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Thomas White
Macquarie University
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Abstract

Araneid spiders use abstract color patterns to attract prey. The chromatic properties of these displays vary extensively, both within and across species, and they are frequently polymorphic. Variation is often expressed in terms of signal hue (color per se), but it is unclear precisely how attractiveness scales with this property. We assessed captures among color-manipulated females of the dimorphic jeweled spider Gasteracantha fornicata in their natural webs. The manipulation magnified the natural variation in stimulus hue independently of chroma (saturation) across a range spanning most of the color spectrum. Catch rate varied across treatments in simple accordance with how greatly stimulus hue deviated from either of the two extant phenotypes. Predictions based upon fly-perceived background contrast were unsupported despite dipterans constituting ~60 % of prey. This study isolates the importance of stimulus hue and supports the premise that extant phenotypes reside in an optimal spectral range for prey attraction.