Simona Kralj-Fišer

Simona Kralj-Fišer
Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts | ZRC SAZU · Jovan Hadži Institute of Biology

PhD, Associate Professor

About

67
Publications
28,110
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
1,176
Citations
Introduction
Simona Kralj-Fišer works at the Institute of Biology, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Research interests: - (co)evolution of the interactions between the sexes; e.g. male and female mating strategies; and their relationships to sexual conflict; - biologies related to sexual size dimorphism (SSD); - evolution of SSD and estimation of the sex specific genetic (co)variation in size related traits; - personality variation, and their evolutionary and ecological consequences (e.g. how sexual selection shapes personality variation); - genetic architecture of personality traits and sex differences; - how personalities relate to ability to adapt to changing environments; - transgenerational plasticity as a short time response towards anthropogenic changes.
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - present
University of Primorska
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • Behaviour Genetics
September 2010 - March 2011
University of Hamburg
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (67)
Article
Full-text available
In the internet era, the digital architecture that keeps us connected and informed may also amplify the spread of misinformation. This problem is gaining global attention, as evidence accumulates that misinformation may interfere with democratic processes and undermine collective responses to environmental and health crises. In an increasingly poll...
Article
Full-text available
Mass media plays an important role in the construction and circulation of risk perception associated with animals. Widely feared groups such as spiders frequently end up in the spotlight of traditional and social media. We compiled an expert-curated global database on the online newspaper coverage of human-spider encounters over the past ten years...
Preprint
Full-text available
In the Internet era, the digital architecture that keeps us connected and informed may collaterally amplify the spread of misinformation and falsehood1,2. The magnitude of this problem is gaining global relevance3, as evidence accumulates that misinformation interferes with democratic processes and undermines collective responses to environmental a...
Preprint
Testosterone plays a critical role in mediating fitness-related traits in many species. Although it is highly responsive to environmental and social conditions, evidence from several species show a heritable component to its individual variation. Despite the known effects that in utero testosterone exposure have on adult fitness, the heritable comp...
Article
Full-text available
Examining the role of color in mate choice without testing what colors the study animal is capable of seeing can lead to ill-posed hypotheses and erroneous conclusions. Here, we test the seemingly reasonable assumption that the sexually dimorphic red coloration of the male jumping spider Saitis barbipes is distinguishable, by females, from adjacent...
Article
Full-text available
Adult body size, development time, and growth rates are components of organismal life histories, which crucially influence fitness and are subject to trade-offs. If selection is sex-specific, male and female developments can eventually lead to different optimal sizes. This can be achieved through developmental plasticity and sex-specific developmen...
Article
Full-text available
The present study examines the role of personality traits, interpersonal relationships , and sociodemographic factors on perceived stress, related to COVID-19, and compliance with measures to mitigate its spread. Data were collected in the midst of the 'first wave' lockdown, with the survey completed in full by 963 participants. We measured stress,...
Article
Full-text available
Reconstructing biogeographic history is challenging when dispersal biology of studied species is poorly understood, and they have undergone a complex geological past. Here, we reconstruct the origin and subsequent dispersal of coin spiders (Nephilidae: Herennia Thorell), a clade of 14 species inhabiting tropical Asia and Australasia. Specifically,...
Article
Sex allocation theory predicts that the proportion of daughters to sons will evolve in response to ecological conditions that determine the costs and benefits of producing each sex. All else being equal, the adult sex ratio (ASR) should also vary with ecological conditions. Many studies of subterranean species reported female‐biased ASR, but no sys...
Article
Full-text available
The current COVID-19 pandemic caught the decision makers in many countries sub-optimally prepared to respond. To better cope with similar situations in the future, it is vital to understand the major predictors of health-beneficial behavior and adherence to imposed mitigation measures and guidelines. To tailor the promotion of government-imposed me...
Article
Variation in life-history traits within a population is caused by genetic, maternal and environmental factors. We explored the high variability in development time, adult body weight and fecundity in females of the sexually size dimorphic spider Trichonephila senegalensis. Their mothers originated from two habitats—strongly seasonal Namibia and mil...
Article
Full-text available
Heterogeneity in species diversity is driven by the dynamics of speciation and extinction, potentially influenced by organismal and environmental factors. Here, we explore macroevolutionary trends on a phylogeny of golden orbweavers (spider family Nephilidae). Our initial inference detects heterogeneity in speciation and extinction, with accelerate...
Article
Full-text available
The role of developmental plasticity in the evolution and maintenance of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) has recently received more attention. We experimentally investigated the effects of genetics (pedigree), social cues, and food availability on developmental time and adult male size in Nephilingis cruentata, an extremely female-biased sexually size...
Article
Full-text available
The existence of consistent individual differences in behavior has been shown in a number of species, and several studies have found observable sex differences in these behaviors, yet their evolutionary implications remain unclear. Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of behavioral traits requires knowledge of their genetic architectures and whe...
Article
Full-text available
Theory suggests that consistent individual variation in behavior relates to fitness, but few studies have empirically examined the role of personalities in mate choice, male-male competition and reproductive success. We observed the Mediterranean black widow, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus, in the individual and mating context, to test how body size...
Article
Full-text available
This article has been retracted. Please see the Retraction Notice for more detail: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-021-02997-3
Preprint
The present study examines the role of personality traits, interpersonal relationships, and sociodemographic factors on perceived stress, related to COVID-19, and compliance with measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Data were collected in the midst of the ‘first wave’ lockdown, with the survey completed in full by 963 participants. Importa...
Preprint
Objective: To investigate the perception and adherence to mitigation measures during the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Slovenia by examining their trends across several sociodemographic categories and personality dimensions. Methods: Descriptive and correlative analyses were used to examine which sociodemographic and personality factors we...
Preprint
Full-text available
Sex differences in behavioral traits are common, but we know little about the role of sexual selection in shaping these traits. Estimating sex-specific genetic effects and cross-sex genetic correlations can provide insights into sex-specific selection and on whether evolution can shape independent expression of behavioral traits across the sexes. W...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioral innovation is a key process for successful colonization of new habitat types. However, it is costly due to the necessary cognitive and neural demands and typically connected to ecological generalism. Therefore, loss of behavioral innovativeness is predicted following colonization of new, simple, and invariable environments. We tested thi...
Article
Full-text available
Aim A wholistic biogeographical reconstruction should combine a phylogeny with specifics of organismal biology, plate tectonics and consequent probabilities of historic dispersal events. Here, we demonstrate this approach by reconstructing the geographical origin and sequence of intercontinental colonization of the golden orbweaving spiders, a glob...
Article
Locomotion is an important, fitness-related functional trait. Environment selects for type of locomotion and shapes the morphology of locomotion-related traits such as body size and appendages. In subterranean aquatic arthropods, these traits are subjected to multiple, at times opposing selection pressures. Darkness selects for enhanced mechano- an...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Sex differences in the genetic architecture of behavioral traits can offer critical insight into the processes of sex‐specific selection and sexual conflict dynamics. Here, we assess genetic variances and cross‐sex genetic correlations of two personality traits, aggression and activity, in a sexually size‐dimorphic spider, Nuctenea umbrati...
Chapter
Full-text available
Spiders with around 48,000 recorded species are major terrestrial predators and thus crucially important for ecosystem functioning. They are widely used as research models and for biodiversity displays and sometimes also kept as pets. Nevertheless, we are not aware of any legal ethical rules bound to spider welfare during rearing or research. To se...
Article
Full-text available
Selection pressures leading to extreme, female-biased sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in spiders continue to be debated. It has been proposed that males of sexually size dimorphic spiders could be small because gravity constrains adult agility (locomotor abilities). Accordingly, small males should achieve higher vertical climbing speeds and should be...
Article
Full-text available
Males and females are often subjected to different selection pressures for homologous traits, resulting in sex-specific optima. Because organismal attributes usually share their genetic architectures, sex-specific selection may lead to intralocus sexual conflict. Evolution of sexual dimorphism may resolve this conflict, depending on the degree of c...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioral characteristics importantly shape an animals’ ability to adapt to changing conditions. The notion that behavioral flexibility facilitates exploitation of urban environments has received mixed support, but recent studies propose that between-individual differences are important. We leverage existing knowledge on three species of orb-web s...
Article
Full-text available
Pre-copulatory sexual cannibalism (Pre-SC), where females attack and consume courting males, is considered an extreme case of sexual conflict. Different ultimate causes underlying this phenomenon have been proposed for more than a century and still remain unclear. The main objective of this research was to test the ‘adaptive foraging hypothesis’ in...
Article
Full-text available
Though not uncommon in other animals, heterospecific mating is rarely reported in arachnids. We investigated sexual interactions among four closely related and syntopical African golden orbweb spiders, Nephila inaurata, N. fenestrata, N. komaci, and N. senegalensis. In two South African localities, female webs were often inhabited by heterospecific...
Article
Full-text available
Background Genital diversity may arise through sexual conflict over polyandry, where male genital features function to manipulate female mating frequency against her interest. Correlated genital evolution across animal groups is consistent with this view, but a link between genital complexity and mating rates remains to be established. In sexually...
Article
Full-text available
Several clades of spiders whose females evolved giant sizes are known for extreme sexual behaviors such as sexual cannibalism, opportunistic mating, mate-binding, genital mutilation, plugging, and emasculation. However, these behaviors have only been tested in a handful of size dimorphic spiders. Here, we bring another lineage into the picture by r...
Article
Full-text available
Keywords: aggressive spillover mate size difference mating personality sexual cannibalism voracity Intersexual agonistic encounters prior to mating are thought to result from the 'spillover' of the advantages of a voracious personality within a foraging context that is maladaptive in a mating context. We tested this idea by examining the repeatabil...
Article
Full-text available
Emasculation—males becoming effectively sterile by self-removing their genitals—has long been considered a peculiar evolutionary phenomenon with unknown function, taxonomically restricted to few spiders and flies. In spiders, emasculation results in half or full eunuchs when males sever one or both sperm transferring organs, palps. Three types of e...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanization poses serious extinction risks, yet some species thrive in urban environments. This may be due to a pronounced developmental plasticity in these taxa, since phenotypically, plastic organisms may better adjust to unpredictable urban food resources. We studied phenotypic plasticity in Nuctenea umbratica, a common European forest and urba...
Article
Full-text available
Research on animal personality variation has been burgeoning in the last 20 years but surprisingly few studies have investigated personalities in invertebrate species although they make up 98% of all animal species. Such lack of invertebrate studies might be due to a traditional belief that invertebrates are just ‘minirobots’. Lately, studies highl...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the mating biology of the previously unstudied central European spider Leviellus thorelli (Ausserer 1871) by staging laboratory mating trials using males and females of varying mating histories. Our aim was to seek common themes in sexual behaviors of the sexually size-monomorphic ''zygiellid'' spiders with their putatively close re...
Article
Full-text available
Pre‐copulatory cannibalism – females devouring males during courtship – may bring no benefit to either sex. The ‘aggressive spillover hypothesis’ (ASH) posits that pre‐copulatory cannibalism represents a spillover of female aggressiveness from the juvenile foraging context, when aggressiveness is advantageous, to the adult mating context, when aggr...
Article
Full-text available
Animals within a population differ consistently in behavior over time and/or across conditions. A general question is how such differences referred to as personalities are maintained through evolution. One suggested mechanism is a nonrandom mate choice, which has been supported in species in which mate choice associates with direct material benefit...
Data
Full-text available
Sexual cannibalism particularly before mating is costly for the male victim but also for the female aggressor if she risks remaining unmated. The aggressive spillover hypothesis explains the persistence of this behavior as a maladaptive side effect of positive selection on aggressiveness in a foraging context. The hypothesis predicts that the occur...
Article
Full-text available
Males usually produce mating plugs to reduce sperm competition. However, females can conceivably also produce mating plugs in order to prevent unwanted, superfluous and energetically costly matings. In spiders-appropriate models for testing plugging biology hypotheses-mating plugs may consist of male genital parts and/or of amorphous covers consist...
Data
Nephila pilipes mating: male approach followed by unsuccessful insertion attempt. (MPG)
Data
Nephila pilipes mating: male successful insertion. (MPG)
Data
Nephila pilipes mating: male performing mate-binding in-between insertion attempts. (MPG)
Article
Full-text available
Males of sexually cannibalistic spiders commonly mutilate parts of their paired genitals (palps) during copulation, which may result in complete emasculation or the 'eunuch phenomenon'. In an orb-web nephilid spider, Nephilengys malabarensis, about 75 per cent of males fall victim to sexual cannibalism, and the surviving males become half-eunuchs (...
Article
Available online xxx MS. number 11-01000 Keywords: aggression behavioural polymorphism behavioural syndrome frequency-dependent selection heritability personality Behaviour is generally plastic to some degree and allows an animal to react appropriately to changing and novel conditions. Consequently, a degree of plasticity is predicted to be a key d...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual cannibalism by females and associated male behaviours may be driven by sexual conflict. One such male behaviour is the eunuch phenomenon in spiders, caused by total genital emasculation, which is a seemingly maladaptive behaviour. Here, we provide the first empirical testing of an adaptive hypothesis to explain this behaviour, the remote cop...
Article
Full-text available
Male-male competition for females can significantly affect a male's reproductive success and hence his fitness. Game theory predicts that an individual should avoid fighting when its future reproductive potential is high, but should fight forcefully when its future reproductive potential is insignificant. When mates are scarce, extreme competition...
Article
Full-text available
Research on consistent individual differences in behavior, or “behavioral syndromes”, continues to grow rapidly, and yet, the aspects of behavior under consideration have remained remarkably limited. Here, we consider individual variation in consistency of choice (termed here “choosiness”), as expressed during habitat choice. We repeatedly tested t...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual cannibalism particularly before mating is costly for the male victim but also for the female aggressor if she risks remaining unmated. The aggressive spillover hypothesis explains the persistence of this behavior as a maladaptive side effect of positive selection on aggressiveness in a foraging context. The hypothesis predicts that the occur...
Article
On the basis of previous findings of behavioural discrimination of amino acids and on the knowledge of electrophysiology of the catfish (genera Ictalurus and Ameiurus) olfactory organs, behavioural experiments that investigated olfactory discrimination of amino acid mixtures were carried out on the black bullhead Ameiurus melas. Repeated presentati...
Article
Genital amputation, that is, genital damage or loss, seems maladaptive because it renders the amputee functionally sterile, but is nevertheless common in sexually dimorphic spiders. In these species, male genital amputation correlates with plugging of female genitals and with sexual cannibalism. Genital amputation in male spiders may be partial or...
Article
Full-text available
Interspecific interactions between surface and subterranean species may be a key determinant for species distributions. Until now, the existence of competition (including predation) between these groups has not been tested. To assess the coexistence and potential role of interspecific interactions between surface Gammarus fossarum and subterranean...
Article
Stress responses involve autonomic, endocrine and behavioural changes. Each of these responses has been studied thoroughly in avian species, but hardly in an integrative way, in free-living birds. This is necessary to reveal the temporal dynamics of the stress response. Towards that goal, we recorded heart rate (HR) and behaviour in free-ranging ma...
Article
Spider web research bridges ethology, ecology, functional morphology, material science, development, genetics, and evolution. Recent work proposes the aerial orb web as a one-time key evolutionary innovation that has freed spider-web architecture from substrate constraints. However, the orb has repeatedly been modified or lost within araneoid spide...
Article
Full-text available
Personality means suites of correlated behavioural traits, also referred to as "behavioural syndromes" or "personality dimensions". Across animal taxa similar combinations of traits seem to prevail, which may have proximate foundation in common neuroendocrine mechanisms. Hitherto, these have been rarely studied in intact social settings. We investi...
Chapter
Humans show consistent individual differences in personality (John et al. 2008). For example, some people are more outgoing, while others are more reserved. Recently, similar variations in behavioural tendencies have been documented in a number of animal species including molluscs, arthropods, fish, lizards, amphibians, birds and mammals (Bell et a...
Article
Nephilid spiders are known for gigantic females and tiny males. Such extreme sexual dimorphism and male-biased sex ratios result in fierce male-male competi- tion for mates. Intense sperm competition may be responsible for behaviors such as mate guarding, mate binding, opportunistic mating, genital mutilation, mating plugs and male castration (eunu...
Article
The concept of personality implies individual differences in behavior and physiology that show some degree of repeatability/consistency over time and across contexts. Most studies of animal personality, particularly studies of individuals' variation in physiological mechanisms, have been conducted on selected individuals in controlled conditions. W...