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Trophic specialization of a newly described spider ant symbiont, Myrmecicultor chihuahuensis (Araneae: Myrmecicultoridae)

Cushing, Paula E. and Brückner, Adrian and Rogers, Jesse W. and Horner, Norman V. (2022) Trophic specialization of a newly described spider ant symbiont, Myrmecicultor chihuahuensis (Araneae: Myrmecicultoridae). Journal of Arachnology, 50 (2). pp. 250-255. ISSN 0161-8202. doi:10.1636/joa-s-21-072.

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The spider Myrmecicultor chihuahuensis Ramírez, Grismado & Ubick (Myrmecicultoridae) was described in 2019 and hypothesized to be a myrmecophile, living inside the nests of Novomessor (Myrmicinae) and perhaps also Pogonomyrmex (Myrmicinae) ants. To test the hypothesis that M. chihuahuensis are chemical mimics of their host ants, we carried out behavioral bioassays to observe interactions between the spiders and the host ants. We compared the cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles of the spiders and the ants. We discovered that this new species of spider is a myrmecophage, displaying hunting strategies similar to other myrmecophagous spiders, particularly those in the genus Zodarion Walckenaer, 1826 (Zodariidae). The CHC profile of M. chihuahuensis did not match the profile of the ants with which it associates, Novomessor albisetosus (Mayr), but ants and spider shared several compounds, potentially involved in species recognition.

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Brückner, Adrian0000-0002-9184-8562
Additional Information:The authors thank Midwestern State University for allowing access and use of the Dalquest Desert Research Station during our studies. Thanks also to Rick Wicker, DMNS photographer, for photographing the spiders’ arenas and helping with the figure plate. SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS. Video clips taken with iPhone under red light of Myrmecicultor chihuahuensis females hunting Novomessor albisetosus ants.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20221010-454096500.12
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ID Code:117298
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:13 Oct 2022 21:57
Last Modified:13 Oct 2022 21:57

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