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Luring prey to the web: the case of Argiope and Nephila

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The view that orb webs are imperceptible traps has changed since it was discovered that some spiders possess body colorations or web designs that are attractive to prey. Spiders of the genera Argiope and Nephila exemplify both cases and are able to adjust their webs to increase foraging success. In this study, I compared the foraging strategies of A. submanorica and N. clavipes as they foraged on the same natural prey (stingless bees). Argiope submanorica adds UV-reflective decorations while N. clavipes builds non-UV-reflective golden webs. Based on studies that suggest a lack of niche separation between these two species, the objective of this study was to test whether this hypothesis holds when the spiders are competing for a limited resource. In addition, I investigated whether the colorations of the spiders influence their foraging success. The golden webs of N. clavipes intercepted more bees than the decorated webs of A. submanorica, suggesting that some type of niche separation must occur in nature, as otherwise competition would lead to the local extinction of A. submanorica. These differences in foraging success, leading to its ability to outcompete other spider species exploiting the same resource, could explain in part the abundance and distribution of the N. clavipes on the American continent.

Affiliations: 1: 1INDICASAT-AIP, Building 219, City of Knowledge, Clayton, Panama, Rep. of Panama, P.O. Box 0843-01103, Panama 5 ; 2: 2Programa Centroamericano de Maestría en Entomología, Vicerrectoría de Investigación y Postgrado, Universidad de Panamá, Avenida Simón Bolívar, 0824 Panama


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