, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 19-27

Foraging tactics of two guilds of web-spinning spiders

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The foraging behavior of orbweaving and sheetweb weaving guilds of spiders was investigated. Orbweavers move among web-sites frequently, but sheetweb weavers do not. A simple model that examines the adaptive advantages of active foraging and sit-and-wait strategies leads to three predictions: 1) Orbweavers should have a simple decision rule for leaving web-sites, 2) Orbweavers' web-sites should have more variable payoffs than do the web-sites of sheetweb weavers, and 3) Orbweavers should have a lower cost of moving than do sheetweb weavers. Field and experimental data bear out each prediction. In addition, analysis of the residence times of spiders at web-sites that are used more than once reveals that members of the two guilds do not compete with each other for web-sites.

The distinction between active foragers and sit-and-wait predators stems from the relative frequency of the decision to leave a foraging site. Thus active foragers are those predators that move often from patch to patch, and sit-and-wait predators are those that leave patches infrequently. In this sense, orbweaving spiders are active foragers and sheetweb weavers are sit-and-wait predators.