Building behavior does not drive rates of phenotypic evolution in spiders

Jonas O. Wolff*, Kaja Wierucka, Gabriele Uhl, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Do animals set the course for the evolution of their lineage when manipulating their environment? This heavily disputed question is empirically unexplored but critical to interpret phenotypic diversity. Here, we tested whether the macroevolutionary rates of body morphology correlate with the use of built artifacts in a megadiverse clade comprising builders and nonbuilders—spiders. By separating the inferred building-dependent rates from background effects, we found that variation in the evolution of morphology is poorly explained by artifact use. Thus natural selection acting directly on body morphology rather than indirectly via construction behavior is the dominant driver of phenotypic diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2102693118
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2021


  • Extended phenotype
  • Animal architecture
  • Niche construction
  • Araneae


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