Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 35–43 | Cite as

Thermal constraints on prey-capture behavior of a burrowing spider in a hot environment

  • J. Scott Turner
  • Johannes R. Henschel
  • Yael D. Lubin


Seothyra henscheli (Eresidae) is a burrowing spider that lives in the dune sea of the southern Namib Desert, Namibia. Prey capture by these spiders involves a foray from a cool subterranean retreat to the undersurface of a capture web that can be lethally hot. Striking, disentangling and retrieving prey from the capture web typically involves several short trips to the capture web, alternating with retreats to the cool burrow. It has been suggested that this behavior limits the increase of body temperature a spider must experience while working at the hot capture web. We used biophysical models in conjunction with direct observations of prey-capture behavior and distributions of sand temperature to estimate body temperatures experienced by S. henscheli during prey capture. In the circumstances we observed, only the relatively long post-strike retreat from the capture web is important in keeping spiders' body temperatures from exceeding their lethal limits. After the post-strike retreat, shuttling appreciably limits the increase in body temperature of small individuals, but may have little effect on body temperature increase in larger spiders.


Temperature Increase Body Temperature Direct Observation Small Individual Prey Capture 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Scott Turner
    • 1
  • Johannes R. Henschel
    • 2
  • Yael D. Lubin
    • 3
  1. 1.Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African OrnithologyUniversity of Cape TownRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.Desert Ecological Research Unit of NamibiaSwakopmundNamibia
  3. 3.Mitrani Center for Desert Ecology, Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion UniversityIsrael

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