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INFLUENCE OF COLLECTIVE FEEDING ON WEIGHT GAIN AND SIZE VARIABILITY OF ANELOSIMUS JABAQUARA LEVI 1956 (ARANEAE: THERIDIIDAE)

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Differences in the size and weight of spiders within colonies may be an important factor for determining dispersion and food distribution among nestmates. In this study we report on the variation in size of spiders from 27 colonies of A. jabaquara, collected during one year. We also conducted an experiment under laboratory conditions to test if prey size, and consequently, collective or individual capture behaviours, influence the establishment of weight differences. Female size variation within colonies was high, increasing slightly from March to September. However, from November to January the variation was much lower, probably as a consequence of the emigration of large spiders during the reproductive period. Spiders that fed on large flies in the laboratory experiment grew more and collective feeding seemed to induce a larger variation in weight among individuals. These results indicate that collective feeding promotes an unequal distribution of food in A. jabaquara colonies.

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