Distinct spinning patterns gain differentiated loading tolerance of silk thread anchorages in spiders with different ecology

Jonas O. Wolff*, Arie van der Meijden, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Building behaviour in animals extends biological functions beyond bodies. Many studies have emphasized the role of behavioural programmes, physiology and extrinsic factors for the structure and function of buildings. Structure attachments associated with animal constructions offer yet unrealized research opportunities. Spiders build a variety of one- to three-dimensional structures from silk fibres. The evolution of economic web shapes as a key for ecological success in spiders has been related to the emergence of high performance silks and thread coating glues. However, the role of thread anchorages has been widely neglected in those models. Here, we show that orb-web (Araneidae) and hunting spiders (Sparassidae) use different silk application patterns that determine the structure and robustness of the joint in silk thread anchorages. Silk anchorages of orb-web spiders show a greater robustness against different loading situations, whereas the silk anchorages of hunting spiders have their highest pull-off resistance when loaded parallel to the substrate along the direction of dragline spinning. This suggests that the behavioural ‘printing’ of silk into attachment discs along with spinneret morphology was a prerequisite for the evolution of extended silk use in a three-dimensional space. This highlights the ecological role of attachments in the evolution of animal architectures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20171124
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume284
Issue number1859
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • animal architecture
  • attachment
  • piriform silk
  • silk adhesion
  • spider silk
  • spider web

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