More social spiders in the news!

I’m a little late on this one, but since people seem to find social spiders fascinating (in a Halloween sort of way), I thought I’d mention this news story about spiders living in groups–to capture large prey!

“The average size of the prey captured by the colony increased 20-fold as colony size increased from less than 100 to 10,000 spiders,” says Avilés, who studied the spiders in the wild in Amazonian Ecuador with undergraduate student Eric Yip and graduate student Kimberly Powers.

“So even though the number of prey falls sharply as the colony grows, the biomass that individual spiders acquire actually increases.”

The study also found that large prey, while making up only eight per cent of the colony’s diet, contributed to more than 75 per cent of its nutritional needs.”

You can read the actual paper in PNAS here; it’s a nifty study.

PNAS August 19, 2008 vol. 105 no. 33 11818-11822.  Cooperative capture of large prey solves scaling challenge faced by spider societies.  Eric C. Yip, Kimberly S. Powers, Leticia Avilés. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0710603105

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