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Airborne Acoustic Perception by a Jumping Spider.

  • Author(s): Shamble, Paul S
  • Menda, Gil
  • Golden, James R
  • Nitzany, Eyal I
  • Walden, Katherine
  • Beatus, Tsevi
  • Elias, Damian O
  • Cohen, Itai
  • Miles, Ronald N
  • Hoy, Ronald R
  • et al.

Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are famous for their visually driven behaviors [1]. Here, however, we present behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that these animals also perceive and respond to airborne acoustic stimuli, even when the distance between the animal and the sound source is relatively large (∼3 m) and with stimulus amplitudes at the position of the spider of ∼65 dB sound pressure level (SPL). Behavioral experiments with the jumping spider Phidippus audax reveal that these animals respond to low-frequency sounds (80 Hz; 65 dB SPL) by freezing-a common anti-predatory behavior characteristic of an acoustic startle response. Neurophysiological recordings from auditory-sensitive neural units in the brains of these jumping spiders showed responses to low-frequency tones (80 Hz at ∼65 dB SPL)-recordings that also represent the first record of acoustically responsive neural units in the jumping spider brain. Responses persisted even when the distances between spider and stimulus source exceeded 3 m and under anechoic conditions. Thus, these spiders appear able to detect airborne sound at distances in the acoustic far-field region, beyond the near-field range often thought to bound acoustic perception in arthropods that lack tympanic ears (e.g., spiders) [2]. Furthermore, direct mechanical stimulation of hairs on the patella of the foreleg was sufficient to generate responses in neural units that also responded to airborne acoustic stimuli-evidence that these hairs likely play a role in the detection of acoustic cues. We suggest that these auditory responses enable the detection of predators and facilitate an acoustic startle response. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

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