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6 October 2023 Negative allometry of orb web size in spiders and the implications for the evolution of giant webs
Adele Paillard, Kevin Arbuckle
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Spider webs, and in particular orb webs, are among the most iconic characteristics of spider biology. The evolution of, and developmental changes in, orb webs have been well studied, but we still have a limited understanding of allometric relations between the size of orb webs and spider body size. In this study, we investigate this relationship using measurements from 55 individuals of two common orb-weaving spider (Araneidae) species in South Wales, UK. We recorded body size using two methods: direct measurements with calipers, and estimations from photographs using ImageJ software. We found that these two methods give almost identical measurements, supporting the use of image-based size measurement in many situations where this is advantageous. We also found evidence for negative allometry of orb web size (relative to spider body length), such that larger spiders build proportionately smaller webs. This implies that the ‘giant webs’ in some orb-weaver species must be the result of a fundamental shift in the constraints or advantages which result in the allometric relationships described here.

Adele Paillard and Kevin Arbuckle "Negative allometry of orb web size in spiders and the implications for the evolution of giant webs," The Journal of Arachnology 51(2), 217-222, (6 October 2023).
Received: 17 April 2021; Accepted: 22 August 2022; Published: 6 October 2023
body size
measurement techniques
orb web construction
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