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The relationship between individual heterozygosity and characteristics likely to be associated with fitness was investigated in the labyrinth spider Metepeira ventura. Adult females and their egg sacs were collected at a coastal site in southern California, and three measures of bodily condition (carapace width, weight, residual index) and six measures of reproductive output (number of egg sacs, variation in egg number among sacs [coefficient of variation], total number of eggs, mean eggs/sac, mean eggs/sac divided by carapace width, mean eggs/sac divided by weight) were determined for each spider. The sample was polymorphic at three allozyme loci that were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and individual females were heterozygous at up to two of the three loci, forming three heterozygosity classes (0, 1, and 2). None of the bodily condition measures were significantly related to the number of heterozygous loci, while four of the reproductive output estimators (total number of eggs, mean eggs/sac, mean eggs/sac divided by carapace width, mean eggs/sac divided by weight) were significantly influenced by heterozygosity. In each significant case, values for class 2 females were less than those for class 0 and 1 females, whose values were usually more similar. Thus, while female bodily condition was comparable among classes, the most heterozygous females produced fewer total eggs and eggs per sac than their less heterozygous peers. The fact that females of M. ventura engage in a reproductive investment-number trade-off suggests that high-variability and low-variability females may be pursuing distinct reproductive strategies in the wild, with more heterozygous females being K-selected (smaller clutches, heavier eggs) and more homozygous females being r-selected (larger clutches, lighter eggs). Further investigation will be needed to assess more fully the fitness value of heterozygosity in M. ventura.

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© 2007, The Authors

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Martin G. Ramirez, et al. “Heterozygosity and Fitness in a California Population of the Labyrinth Spider Metepeira Ventura (Araneae, Araneidae).” Invertebrate Biology, vol. 126, no. 1, Jan. 2007, pp. 67–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7410.2007.00077.x

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