Research Highlights | Published:

Animal behaviour

Castration boosts spider stamina

Nature volume 486, page 296 (21 June 2012) | Download Citation


The male orb-web nephilid spider often castrates himself during sex, reducing his body weight by up to 9%. This could increase his endurance when defending his mate from competitors.

Image: L. QI QI

Daiqin Li at the National University of Singapore and his colleagues partly or fully castrated male spiders (Nephilengys malabarensis; fully castrated pictured right) and then assessed their stamina by repeatedly poking them with a paintbrush to goad them into moving.

Spiders that retained their genitals, or palps, quickly became exhausted, whereas the much lighter eunuchs showed 80% greater locomotor endurance. Spiders with one remaining palp kept going for 32% longer than intact males (left).

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