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The three variables influencing female behavior related to cannibalism are aggressiveness, food deprivation, and male-female interactions. Female’s aggressiveness is related to the aggressive spillover hypothesis. This suggests that sexual cannibalism emerges as a product of selection and sexual cannibalism could be a facet of aggressiveness. Selection that favors aggressiveness can indirectly increase incidence of sexual cannibalism. Under these circumstances, sexual cannibalism threatens to sterilize highly aggressive females. With male-female interactions, mate choice hypothesis comes as a theory. Sexual cannibalism may represent an extreme form of mate choice. This is when females attack undesired males but allow preferred mates to copulate. Lastly, food deprivation can occur in aggressive and nonaggressive females.
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If there were no factors of food deprivation, the female spider cannibalizing male mates would decrease. This is supported because the female spider never cannibalized two mates consecutively. This practice may become adaptive when there are long periods of no food source. Genetics can play a factor because this is an adaptive trait that is passed because of the longevity of no food source. Aggressiveness can lead to this adaptation as well. Aggressiveness causes females to have a higher likelihood of cannibalizing their first mate. If this trait is adapted and passed, then there will be an increase of cannibalism before mating for offspring.
Over time as sexual cannibalism continues to grow, male behavior must change in response to females. I predict over time that males would change the way they mate, sexual encounters, and mate binding. In mate binding, the male puts silk on the females as he massages her so that her aggression decreases. Decreasing her aggression, causes the likelihood of being eaten to decrease. Changing the way that they mate can still maximize fitness on both parties but males can adapt to the females.
As males adapt to females, females must respond to the male responses. I predict over time that the females would have to adapt to the males responses to their sexual cannibalism. They would have to adapt to traits that help increase the probability of sexual cannibalism. They would have to change what stops them from being aggressive so that the cycle continues.
Because this process could continue on and on indefinitely, there should be long term changes to stop this process from continuing. Long term predictions would be to adapt to a new food source that is plentiful. When food is plentiful, the likeliness of females preying on males would decrease. Also over time they would have to adapt to coexistence for the maximum fitness of males and females. If aggression continues, the female would have to adapt over time to a male’s response so that fitness is achieved by the male. The male can pass his eggs to the female for reproduction and there she may continue to cannibalize is one alternative. This alternative makes it so that the males’ fitness is maximized and the female still is fed.