Plastic material investment in load-bearing silk attachments in spiders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The nature and size of attachments is a fundamental element of animal constructions. Presumably, these adhesive structures are plastically deployed to balance material investment and attachment strength. Here we studied plasticity in dragline anchorages of the golden orb web spider, Nephila plumipes. Specifically, we predict that spiders adjust the size and structure of dragline anchorages with load, i.e. spider mass. Mass was manipulated by attaching lead pieces to the spider's abdomen resulting in a 50 percent increase in mass. Loaded spiders spun larger but structurally similar thread anchorages than unloaded spiders. Thus, the spinning program that determines the overall anchor structure is highly stereotypic, and flexibility is introduced through varying the anchor size by increasing material investment. Our study showcases substrate attachments as suitable models to investigate the interplay between innate and changeable elements in the economy of building behaviours.

LanguageEnglish
Pages45-47
Number of pages3
JournalZoology
Volume131
Early online date17 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Fingerprint

silk
Araneae
plastics
Nephila
spinning
adhesives
abdomen
animals

Keywords

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

Cite this

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title = "Plastic material investment in load-bearing silk attachments in spiders",
abstract = "The nature and size of attachments is a fundamental element of animal constructions. Presumably, these adhesive structures are plastically deployed to balance material investment and attachment strength. Here we studied plasticity in dragline anchorages of the golden orb web spider, Nephila plumipes. Specifically, we predict that spiders adjust the size and structure of dragline anchorages with load, i.e. spider mass. Mass was manipulated by attaching lead pieces to the spider's abdomen resulting in a 50 percent increase in mass. Loaded spiders spun larger but structurally similar thread anchorages than unloaded spiders. Thus, the spinning program that determines the overall anchor structure is highly stereotypic, and flexibility is introduced through varying the anchor size by increasing material investment. Our study showcases substrate attachments as suitable models to investigate the interplay between innate and changeable elements in the economy of building behaviours.",
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Plastic material investment in load-bearing silk attachments in spiders. / Wolff, Jonas O.; Jones, Braxton; Herberstein, Marie E.

In: Zoology, Vol. 131, 12.2018, p. 45-47.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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