The distribution of sticky spirals and radii within orb webs is usually not uniform. Distinct patterns of silk investment in inner and outer portions of the orb may influence the web's capacity to stop and retain specific prey types. Several incidental and functional hypotheses have been proposed previously to explain the variation in web patterns. Herein, we describe the webs built by spiders of the monospecific genus Wixia O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1882 (Araneidae) and evaluate web-building hypotheses, considering the presence of a free-sector, vertical symmetry, sticky spiral distribution and radii spacing. Because all information available on the ecology of Wixia is restricted to the species that were subsequently transferred to other araneid genera, there is no information about the webs of the last species remaining in this genus, Wixia abdominalis O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1882. We observed that this spider builds complete orbs, but some individuals add a free-sector, remaining resting on a twig above the orb and holding a signaling thread. On the upper part of the orb the spiral distribution follows the pattern of increasing densities from the edge to the hub. However, on the lower part of orbs, this pattern is seen only in complete webs; in contrast, in webs with a free-sector the pattern of spiral distribution observed in lower part of webs is homogeneous from the edge to the hub. We discuss possible implications of the web structure of W. abdominalis for prey capture and how the incidental and functional hypotheses may explain the patterns of spiral spacing observed in this species.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2