Condition dependence of male display coloration in a jumping spider (Habronattus pyrrithrix)

Lisa A. Taylor, David L. Clark, Kevin McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In many animals, conspicuous coloration functions as a quality signal. Indicator models predict that such colors should be variable and condition dependent. In Habronattus pyrrithrix jumping spiders, females are inconspicuously colored, while males display brilliant red faces, green legs, and white pedipalps during courtship. We tested the predictions of the indicator model in a field study and found that male body condition was positively correlated with the size, hue, and red chroma of a male's facial patch and negatively correlated with the brightness of his green legs. These traits were more condition dependent than non-display colors. We then tested a dietary mechanism for condition dependence using two experiments. To understand how juvenile diet affects the development of coloration, we reared juvenile spiders on high- and low-quality diets and measured coloration at maturity. To understand how adult diet affects the maintenance of coloration, we fed wild-caught adults with high- or low-quality diets and compared their coloration after 45 days. In the first experiment, males fed high-quality diet had redder faces, suggesting that condition dependence is mediated by juvenile diet. In the second experiment, red coloration did not differ between treatments, suggesting that adult diet is not important for maintaining the color after it is produced at maturity. Diet had no effect on green coloration in either experiment. Our results show different degrees of condition dependence for male display colors. Because red is dependent on juvenile diet, it may signal health or foraging ability. We discuss evidence that green coloration is age dependent and alternatives to indicator models for colorful displays in jumping spiders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1146
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Diet
  • Honest advertisement
  • Nutrition
  • Ornamental color
  • Salticidae
  • Sexual dichromatism
  • Sexual signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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