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1 April 2010 Functional diversity of ladder-webs: moth specialization or optimal area use?
Aaron M. T. Harmer, Marie E. Herberstein
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Ladder-webs are built by several orb-web spider species and can be divided into two main groups based on the microhabitat in which they are built, either in open spaces (aerial) or against tree trunks (arboricolous). In Australian ladder-web spiders, Telaprocera, the elongated webs are a highly plastic behavioral response to building in space-limited conditions against tree trunks, while the aerial ladder-webs of Scoloderus are an adaptation for catching moths. However, the relative importance of moth capture in the construction of elongated webs in arboricolous spiders cannot be determined with existing data. We here present observational and experimental data concerning prey capture in the arboricolous spiders T. maudae Harmer & Framenau 2008 and T. joanae Harmer & Framenau 2008. We found that moths make up only a small fraction (< 4%) of the diet of Telaprocera spiders and that the proportions of major prey orders in webs are representative of available prey. Our experiments indicate that these webs do not function well at retaining moths. However, further data are required before more definite conclusions can be drawn regarding whether these webs are more effective at retaining moths than standard orb-webs.

Aaron M. T. Harmer and Marie E. Herberstein "Functional diversity of ladder-webs: moth specialization or optimal area use?," The Journal of Arachnology 38(1), 119-122, (1 April 2010).
Received: 12 May 2009; Published: 1 April 2010

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