Orbiculariae consists of two major clades: the cribellate Deinopoidea and the much more diverse ecribellate Araneoidea. It has been hypothesized that the higher diversity of Araneoidea is a consequence of the superiority of the viscid orb web. However, this explanation seems incomplete; for example, cribellate silk may perform better than viscid silk in some contexts. Here, we consider the hypothesis that the diversification of Araneoidea was facilitated by changes in microhabitat occupation behavior due to the cheaper viscid orb web. In the present work we investigate the idea that the reduction in site tenacity caused by the emergence of the viscid orb web has led to an increase in the exploration of different resources and to a greater diversification of the Araneoidea through the evolutionary time. To test this idea, we evaluated the response of one cribellate orb web spider (Zosis geniculata Olivier 1789, Uloboridae) and one ecribellate orb web spider (Metazygia rogenhoferi Keyserling 1878, Araneidae) to abrupt prey absence. The changes in site tenacity and the day-to-day investment in web silk were evaluated. Spiders with three-dimensional webs tend to exhibit greater site tenacity than spiders making orb webs. Zosis geniculata and M. rogenhoferi show similar site tenacity when prey is ample. When prey is unavailable, the tenacity of the cribellate species increases while the tenacity of the ecribellate remains unchanged, and the silk investment of both species decreases. However, this decrease in silk investment is more extensive in Z. geniculata. These results coincide with the idea that a less costly ecribellate orb web leads to a lower tenacity and suggest that more frequent microhabitat abandonment in a context of insect radiation (Neoptera) leads to more diverse and opportunistic exploration of microhabitats that, in the long term, may be one explanation for the greater Araneoidea diversification.
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