Harvestmen are a major arachnid order that has experienced a dramatic increase in biological knowledge in the 21st century. The publication of the book Harvestmen: The Biology of Opiliones in 2007 stimulated the development of many behavioral studies. Although the book is relatively recent, our understanding of the reproductive biology of harvestmen is already outdated due to the fast accumulation of new data. Our goal is to provide an updated review of the subject to serve as a benchmark for the following years. In the pre-copulatory phase, we explore the evolution of facultative parthenogenesis, the factors that may affect the types of mating system, and the role of nuptial gifts in courtship. Regarding the copulatory phase, harvestmen are unique arachnids because they have aflagellate spermatozoa and a penis with complex morphology. We discuss the implications of these two features for sperm competition and cryptic female choice. In the post-copulatory phase, we connect oviposition site selection and climate conditions to the widespread occurrence of resource defense polygyny, alternative reproductive tactics, and sexual dimorphism in several clades of tropical harvestmen. Finally, we present the different forms of parental care in the order, and discuss the benefits and costs of this behavior,more »
Defensive strategies, like other life-history traits favored by natural selection, may pose constraints on reproduction. A common anti-predator defense strategy that increases immediate survival is autotomy—the voluntary release of body parts. This type of morphological damage is considered to impose future costs for reproduction and fitness. We tested an alternative hypothesis that animals are robust (able to withstand and overcome perturbations) to this type of damage and do not experience any fitness costs in reproductive contexts. We explored the effects of experimental leg loss on the reproductive behavior of one species of Neotropical
In order to survive encounters with predators, animals have evolved many defensive strategies. Some of those behaviors, however, can come with a cost to their overall body condition. For example, some animals can voluntarily lose body parts (tails, legs, etc.) to escape. This process can then affect many aspects of an animal’s life, including reproduction. In a group of harvestmen (daddy long-legs) from Costa Rica, we tested the hypothesis that males are robust to the potential consequences of losing legs, and will not experience costs. We found that males that lost either legs used for locomotion or for sensory perception reproduced in the same way as animals with all of their legs. Consequently, we demonstrate that these arachnids are able to withstand the loss of legs with no effects on reproduction.
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- Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
- Springer Science + Business Media
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- National Science Foundation
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Reproductive biology of harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones): a review of a rapidly evolving research field
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