Does ontogenetic change in orb web asymmetry reflect biogenetic law?
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- Nakata, K. Naturwissenschaften (2010) 97: 1029. doi:10.1007/s00114-010-0719-2
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Most orb web spiders face downward on the web hub, and their webs are vertically asymmetrical, that is, the lower part of the web is larger than the upper part and the ratio of the lower part to the whole web area increases as the spider grows. This phenomenon may reflect biogenetic law such that young animals exhibit a general ancestral trait whereas adults exhibit specific and derived traits. An alternative explanation is that vertical asymmetry may arise from the difference in time required by spiders to move up or down the web to capture prey. The present study tested these two hypotheses for Eriophora sagana. Subadults of this species build their webs with reverse asymmetry in that the upper part of the web area is larger than the lower part. In both subadults and adults, the upper proportion decreased with spider weight, and adult spiders built more symmetric webs. These results support the capture time difference hypothesis.