Jumping spiders, or salticids, sample their environment using a combination of two types of eyes. The forward-facing pair of ‘principal’ eyes have narrow fields of view, but exceptional spatial resolution, while the two or three pairs of ‘secondary’ eyes have wide fields of view and function especially well as motion analysers. Motion detected by the secondary eyes may elicit an orienting response, whereupon the object of interest is examined further using the high-acuity principal eyes. The anterior lateral (AL) eyes are particularly interesting, as they are the only forward-facing pair of secondary eyes. In this study, we aimed to determine characteristics of stimuli that elicit orienting responses mediated by the AL eyes. After covering all eyes except the AL eyes, we measured orienting responses to dot stimuli that varied in size and contrast, and moved at different speeds. We found that all stimulus parameters had significant effects on orientation propensity. When tethered flies were used as prey, we found that visual information from the AL eyes alone was sufficient to elicit stalking behaviour. These results suggest that, in terms of overall visual processing, the relevance of spatial vision in the AL eyes has been underestimated in the literature. Our results also show that female spiders are significantly more responsive than males. We found that hunger caused similar increases in orientation propensity in the two sexes, but females responded more often than males both when sated and when hungry. A higher propensity by females to orient toward moving objects may be related to females tending to experience higher nutritional demands than males.
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