Small behavioral adaptations enable more effective prey capture by producing 3D-structured spider threads

Caroline C. F. Grannemann, Marco Meyer, Marian Reinhardt, Martín J. Ramírez, Marie E. Herberstein, Anna Christin Joel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Spiders are known for producing specialized fibers. The radial orb-web, for example, contains tough silk used for the web frame and the capture spiral consists of elastic silk, able to stretch when prey impacts the web. In concert, silk proteins and web geometry affects the spider’s ability to capture prey. Both factors have received considerable research attention, but next to no attention has been paid to the influence of fiber processing on web performance. Cribellate spiders produce a complex fiber alignment as their capture threads. With a temporally controlled spinneret movement, they connect different fibers at specific points to each other. One of the most complex capture threads is produced by the southern house spider, Kukulcania hibernalis (Filistatidae). In contrast to the so far characterized linear threads of other cribellate spiders, K. hibernalis spins capture threads in a zigzag pattern due to a slightly altered spinneret movement. The resulting more complex fiber alignment increased the thread’s overall ability to restrain prey, probably by increasing the adhesion area as well as its extensibility. Kukulcania hibernalis' cribellate silk perfectly illustrates the impact of small behavioral differences on the thread assembly and, thus, of silk functionality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17273
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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