Evidence of Mate Trailing in the Giant Hairy Desert Scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis (Scorpionida, Iuridae)


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Abstract

During the mating season, male desert scorpions are often found wandering through dune environments, presumably in search of female conspecifics. For a male desert scorpion, finding a receptive female is a potentially difficult and hazardous task, suggesting that wandering by the male may actually be a form of guided mate searching. In this study we examined whether male giant hairy desert scorpions (Hadrurus arizonensis) were capable of trailing female conspecifics using a Y-maze choice test. In three separate experiments, a significant proportion of male scorpions preferred the arm of the maze that a reproductive female scorpion had walked down. Male scorpions did not prefer maze arms that male conspecifics had walked down, indicating that this response was sex specific. When the substrate was repeatedly exposed to a reproductive female, males took significantly longer to complete the Y-maze test, exhibited an increase in pausing behavior, and displayed precourtship behaviors and a novel lunging behavior resembling sex-specific mate seizing behavior. The results from this study suggest that male H. arizonensis can orient and respond to substrate-borne signals from female conspecifics that are likely chemical in origin.

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