Vibratory communication in spiders
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We analyzed the response of the vibration sensitive lyriform organ on the metatarsus of female spiders (Cupiennius salei) to dummies of male courtship vibrations. One of the two representative slits studied is sharply tuned to 500 Hz. Only the other slit is sensitive enough at lower frequencies to represent the parameters contained in the behaviourally effective dummies:
Amplitude. The physiological threshold is similar to the behavioural threshold. The stimulus acceleration amplitudes leading to a good synchronization between response and temporal stimulus pattern coincide with those effectively eliciting a behavioural response. The most frequent spike intervals remain nearly constant in this range. At acceleration amplitudes above the natural range, syllable and pause durations are misrepresented by the receptor response.
Frequency. Varying the carrier frequency between 35–500 Hz changes the most frequent spike intervals. Interval histograms resulting from behaviourally effective stimuli (50–200 Hz), however, are similr for carrier frequencies differing by a factor of 2.
Temporal pattern. Response duration reflects the temporal parameters of the stimulus. The most frequent spike interval only changes with temporal stimulus characteristics far off the natural range. The number of spikes during a syllable decreases in ongoing stimulus series. The quality of copying the temporal stimulus pattern remains unchanged, however.
Key wordsVibratory communication Spider Mechanoreception Sensory representation Pattern recognition
metatarsal lyriform organ
number of spikes elicited during one syllable
sinewave period of stimulus
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