Can climate change influence a spider’s aggressive behavior? According to a recent study, yes!
A team of researchers from Canada and the U.S., who were led by Alexander Little at the University of California, Santa Barbara, concluded that colonies of communal spiders (Anelosimus studiosus), who typically reside over rivers or streams, can be impacted by climate change and hurricanes in what they call a “cyclone-induced disturbance.”
The research group conducted its study in North America’s Atlantic coast and observed 211 spider sites before and after a hurricane struck. This was accomplished by traveling to the areas at various times, before and after a hurricane, and measuring the spiders aggression to web vibration caused with an electric toothbrush and piece of paper.
Little and his colleagues study is “a remarkable example that addresses this knowledge gap; by studying the impacts of tropical cyclones with spatiotemporal replications and control sites, they show that selectivity for more aggressive colonies of Anelosimus studiosus is a robust evolutionary response to cyclone-induced disturbance,” wrote Eric Ameca, a researcher at Beijing Normal University, in a Nature commentary.
While aggression ranges in communal spiders, the group’s overall observations revealed that after a hurricane, the more aggressive colonies produced extra egg sacs and had more babies survive. Researchers also believe that spiders might become more aggressive due to less food availability after a cyclone or if a storm killed a mother spider. If so, it forced the babies to survive on their own.
In addition to this study, others have surmised that some weather patterns can be attached to animal behavior, however, those have centered on observations solely after an extreme weather event.
Ameca said this study showed the importance into how some species like the Anelosimus studiosus can conform and survive in extreme weather.
Image via Flickr