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

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    39 Downloads (Pure)


    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
    JournalProceedings 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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