Airborne Acoustic Perception by a Jumping Spider

Paul S. Shamble*, Gil Menda, James R. Golden, Eyal I. Nitzany, Katherine Walden, Tsevi Beatus, Damian O. Elias, Itai Cohen, Ronald N. Miles, Ronald R. Hoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2913-2920
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 7 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • acoustic startle response
  • acoustics
  • jumping spider
  • neuroethology


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