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Characterizing the vibratory and acoustic signals of the "purring" wolf spider, Gladicosa gulosa (Araneae: Lycosidae)

Alexander L. Sweger & George W. Uetz (2016). Characterizing the vibratory and acoustic signals of the "purring" wolf spider, Gladicosa gulosa (Araneae: Lycosidae). Bioacoustics, Volume 25 (3): 293 -303



Both airborne acoustic signals and substrate-borne vibrations are prevalent modes of animal communication, particularly in arthropods. While a wide variety of animals utilize one or both of these modalities, the connection between them is still ambiguous in many species. Spiders as a group are not known for using, or even perceiving, acoustic signals, despite being well-adapted for vibratory communication. Males of the “purring” wolf spider Gladicosa gulosa are reported to produce audible signals during courtship, although the literature on this species is largely anecdotal. Using a laser Doppler vibrometer and an omnidirectional microphone in controlled conditions, we recorded and characterized the visual and mechanical (both substrate-borne and airborne) signals of this species in an attempt to provide a qualitative and quantitative overview of its signal properties. We found that the vibratory signal is composed of two primary repeating and alternating elements, consisting of pulses of stridulation and percussive strikes, as well as a less common, but repeatable, third element. We also characterized a measurable airborne component to the signal that is significantly correlated with the amplitude of the vibratory signal, which we suggest is a by-product of the strong vibration. Neither modality correlated significantly with male body size or condition. Although the exact role of the acoustic component is unclear, we speculate that the unique properties of signalling in this species may have value in answering new questions about animal communication.


Vibration, spider, acoustic, communication