Channeling its Inner Human: the Sensory Neuroethology of the Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax

Summary

Date: 
October 25, 2017 - 1:00pm
Location: 
Northwest Building, Room 243
About the Speaker
Name: 
Ronald Hoy
Speaker Title: 
Professor
Speaker Affiliation: 
Cornell University

Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are fascinating because they behave in “unspider-like” ways. They are not creatures of the night and do not build webs to ensnare prey but instead hunt their by prey on foot(s) during the day. They have unique eyes that are more like a mammal’s than a spider’s and which support their predatory prowess. Moreover, their reproductive behavior features highly ritualized, visually conspicuous song and dance courtship displays. Hunters are also hunted and jumping spiders have evolved multimodal sensory mechanisms for predator detection. Spider behavior has long eluded the reach of a neurological analysis but recent technical advances have opened a small window of opportunity to neurophysiologically “peer” into the jumping spider brain as it processes salient visual and auditory stimuli. This is a work-in-progress report on our attempts to apply a neuroethological strategy to the behavior of nature’s most charismatic and speciose group of spiders, the Salticidae.