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Evidence for lekking in a new kite spider

Spiders are notoriously solitary and cannibalistic, with instances of colonial or social lifestyles in only about ~0.1% of described species. Territorial social spiders facultatively form colonies by interlinking individual webs, but further cooperation is infrequent, and only among juveniles or (rarely) females. Aggregations of males outside of the male-male competition context has been unknown in spiders.

Here, we report on a discovery of a kite spider from Madagascar that exhibits unique colonies. These colonies consist of unrelated individuals and are formed by up to 41 interconnected, single-cohort adult female webs with up to 38 adult males aggregating on a central, single, non-sticky line. With males resting tightly together, we found no evidence for male-male aggression. Single cohort colonies made up purely of adults, and peaceful male aggregations, have not previously been observed in spiders. Although direct behavioral observations are preliminary, we speculate based on the available evidence that these colonies may represent a novel and first case of lekking in spiders.

The newly described species is named Isoxya manangona - the specific epithet refers to the Malagasy verb “to gather/aggregate”, referring to the species unusual mating aggregations.


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