Signals for damage control: web decorations in Argiope keyserlingi (Araneae: Araneidae)

Original Paper

Abstract

Orb web spiders of the genus Argiope are permanently located at the hub of the orb web and are thus vulnerable to changing environmental conditions. Severe damage to the web by non-prey animals can have a significant impact on survival, through the cost of producing expensive silk and the loss of foraging opportunities. Thus, selection should favor web protection mechanisms, and the conspicuous web decorations, typical of Argiope spiders, may play a role. Decorated webs suffer less damage than undecorated webs, consistent with the view that they advertise the presence of the web to non-prey animals that may damage the web. However, whether spiders respond to web damage by increasing investment in web decorations has not been investigated. We subjected adult St. Andrew's Cross spider (Argiope keyserlingi) females to three levels of web damage and recorded their subsequent web-decorating behavior. Mild damage, similar to that caused by impacting prey, did not affect either web building or decorating behavior. However, spiders subjected to substantial web damage both reduced the size of subsequent webs and increased investment in web decoration size. These data are consistent with an advertising role of web decorations.

Keywords

Argiope Web decoration Web protection Prey attraction Capture strategy Visual signals St. Andrew's cross spider 

References

  1. Baba Y, Miyashita T (2006) Does individual internal state affect the presence of a barrier web in Argiope bruennichi (Araneae: Araneidae)? J Ethol 24:75–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blackledge TA (1998) Signal conflict in spider webs driven by predators and prey. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:1991–1996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blackledge TA, Wenzel JW (1999) Do stabilimenta in orb webs attract prey or defend spiders? Behav Ecol 10:372–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blackledge TA, Wenzel JW (2001) Silk mediated defense by an orb web spider against predatory mud-dauber wasps. Behaviour 138:155–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruce MJ (2006) Silk decorations: controversy and consensus. J Zool 269:89–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruce MJ, Herberstein ME, Elgar MA (2001) Signalling conflict between prey and predator attraction. J Evol Biol 14:786–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruce MJ, Heiling AM, Herberstein ME (2005) Spider signals: are web decorations visible to birds and bees? Biol Lett 1:299–302PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheng R-C, Yang E-C, Lin C-P, Herberstein ME, Tso I-M (2010) Insect form vision as one potential shaping force of spider web decoration design. J Exp Biol 213:759–768PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chmiel K, Herberstein ME, Elgar MA (2000) Web damage and feeding experience influence web site tenacity in the orb web spider Argiope keyserlingi Karsch. Anim Behav 60:821–826PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Craig CL (2003) Spiderwebs and silk: tracing evolution from molecules to genes to phenotypes. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Craig CL, Bernard GD (1990) Insect attraction to ultraviolet reflecting spider webs and web decorations. Ecology 71:616–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Craig CL, Wolf SG, Davis LD, Hauber ME, Maas JL (2001) Signal polymorphism in the web-decorating spider Argiope argentata is correlated with reduced survivorship and the presence of stingless bees, its primary prey. Evolution 55:986–993PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eberhard WG (2003) Substitution of silk stabilimenta for egg sacs by Allocyclosa bifurca (Araneae: Araneidae) suggests that silk stabilimenta function as camouflage devices. Behaviour 140:847–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eberhard WG (2007) Stabilimenta of Philoponella vicina (Araneae: Uloboridae) and Gasteracantha cancriformis (Araneae: Araneidae): evidence against a prey attractant function. Biotropica 39:216–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Edmunds J (1986) The stabilimenta of Argiope flavipalpis and Argiope trifasciata in West Africa, with a discussion of the function of stabilimenta. In: Eberhard WG, Lubin YD, Robinson BC (eds) Proc. 9th Int. Congr. Arachnol., Panama 1983. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, pp 61–72Google Scholar
  16. Eisner T, Nowicki S (1983) Spider web protection through visual advertisement: role of the stabilimentum. Science 219:185–187PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Enders F (1974) Vertical stratification in orb-web spiders (Araneidae, Araneae) and a consideration of other methods of coexistence. Ecology 55:317–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foelix RF (1996) Biology of spiders. Oxford University Press & Georg Thieme Verlag, New York, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. Hansell M (2005) Animal Architecture. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hauber ME (1998) Web decorations and alternative foraging tactics of the spider Argiope appensa. Ethol Ecol Evol 10:47–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Herberstein ME (2000) Foraging behaviour in orb-web spiders (Araneidae): do web decorations increase prey capture success in Argiope keyserlingi Karsch, 1878? Aust J Zool 48:217–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Herberstein ME, Tso I-M (2000) Evaluation of formulae to estimate the capture area and mesh height of orb webs (Araneoidea, Araneae). J Arachnol 28:180–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Herberstein ME, Craig CL, Coddington JA, Elgar MA (2000a) The functional significance of silk decorations of orb-web spiders: a critical review of the empirical evidence. Biol Rev 75:649–669PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Herberstein ME, Craig CL, Elgar MA (2000b) Foraging strategies and feeding regimes: web and decoration investment in Argiope keyserlingi Karsch (Araneae: Araneidae). Evol Ecol Res 2:69–80Google Scholar
  25. Higgins LE (1990) Variation in foraging investment during the intermolt interval and before egg-laying in the spider Nephila clavipes (Araneae: Araneidae). J Insect Behav 3:773–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Horton CC (1980) A defensive function for the stabilimentum of two orb-weaving spiders (Araneae, Araneidae). Psyche 87:13–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaffé R, Eberhard W, De Angelo C, Eusse D, Gutierrez A, Quijas S, Rodríguez A, Rodríguez M (2005) Caution webs in the way! Possible functions of silk stabilimenta in Gasteracantha cancriformis (Araneae: Araneidae). J Arachnol 34:448–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kerr AM (1993) Low frequency of stabilimenta in orb webs of Argiope appensa (Araneae: Araneidae) from Guam: an indirect effect of an introduced avian predator? Pac Sci 47:328–337Google Scholar
  29. Levi HW (1968) The spider genera Gea and Argiope in America (Araneae: Araneidae). Bull Mus Comp Zool Harv 136:319–352Google Scholar
  30. Li D, Lim MLM, Seah WK, Tay SL (2004) Prey attraction as a possible function of discoid stabilimenta of juvenile orb-spinning spiders. Anim Behav 68:629–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lubin YD, Ellner S, Kotzman M (1993) Web relocation and habitat selection in desert widow spider. Ecology 74:1915–1928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCook HC (1889) American spiders and their spinning work. Academy of Natural Sciences, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  33. Meyer-Rochow VB (2007) Glowworms: a review of Arachnocampa spp. and kin. Luminescence 22:251–265PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nakata K (2009) To be or not to be conspicuous: the effects of prey availability and predator risk on spider's web decoration building. Anim Behav 78:1255–1260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nakata K (2010) Attention focusing in a sit-and-wait forager: a spider controls its prey-detection ability in different web sectors by adjusting thread tension. Proc R Soc Lond B 277:29–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nentwig W, Heimer S (1987) Ecological aspects of spider webs. In: Nentwig W (ed) Ecophysiology of spiders. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, pp 211–225Google Scholar
  37. Olive CW (1982) Behavioral response of a sit-and-wait predator to spatial variation in foraging gain. Ecology 63:912–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pasquet A, Cardot J, Leborgne R (2007) Wasp attacks and spider defence in the orb weaving species Zygiella x-notata. J Insect Behav 20:553–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rao D, Cheng K, Herberstein ME (2007) A natural history of web decorations in the St Andrew's Cross spider (Argiope keyserlingi). Aust J Zool 55:9–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Robinson MH, Robinson B (1973) The stabilimenta of Nephila clavipes and the origins of stabilimentum-building in araneids. Psyche 80:277–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scharf I, Ovadia O (2006) Factors influencing site abandonment and site selection in a sit-and-wait predator: a review of pit-building antlion larvae. J Insect Behav 19:197–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scharff N, Coddington JA (1997) A phylogenetic analysis of the orb-weaving spider family Araneidae (Arachnida, Araneae). Zool J Linn Soc 120:355–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schoener TW, Spiller DA (1992) Stabilimenta characteristics of the spider Argiope argentata on small islands: support of the predator-defense hypothesis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 31:309–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Seah WK, Li D (2002) Stabilimentum variations in Argiope versicolor (Araneae: Araneidae) from Singapore. J Zool Lond 258:531–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Starks PT (2002) The adaptive significance of stabilimenta in orb-webs: a hierarchical approach. Ann Zool Fenn 39:307–315Google Scholar
  46. Stephens DW, Brown JS, Ydenberg RC (2007) Foraging: behavior and ecology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  47. Thirunavukarasu P, Nicolson M, Elgar MA (1996) Leaf selection by the leaf - curling spider Phonognatha graeffei Keyserling (Araneoidea: Araneae). Bull Br Arachnological Soc 10:187–189Google Scholar
  48. Tso I-M (1996) Stabilimentum of the garden spider Argiope trifasciata: a possible prey attractant. Anim Behav 52:183–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tso I-M (1998) Isolated spider web stabilimentum attracts insects. Behaviour 135:311–319Google Scholar
  50. Tso I-M (1999) Behavioral response of Argiope trifasciata to recent foraging gain: a manipulative study. Am Nat 141:238–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tso I-M, Chiang S-Y, Blackledge TA (2007) Does the giant wood spider Nephila pilipes respond to prey variation by altering web or silk properties? Ethology 113:324–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tusculescu R, Topoff H, Walfe S (1975) Mechanisms of pit construction by antlion larvae. Ann Entomol Soc Am 68:719–720Google Scholar
  53. Vollrath F, Knight DP (2001) Liquid crystalline spinning of spider silk. Nature 410:541–548PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vollrath F, Köhler T (1996) Mechanics of silk produced by loaded spiders. Proc R Soc Lond B 263:387–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Walter A, Elgar MA, Bliss P, Moritz RFA (2008) Moulting interferes with web decorating behaviour in Argiope keyserlingi (Araneae: Araneidae). J Arachnol 36:538–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia

Personalised recommendations