Web decoration polymorphism in Argiope Audouin, 1826 (Araneidae) spiders

Ontogenetic and interspecific variation

Matthew J. Bruce*, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Spiders in the genus Argiope commonly include curious silk structures, termed web decorations or stabilimenta in their webs. Whilst interesting ontogenetic and interspecific variation in both the form and frequency of web decorations has been documented, to our knowledge this is the first study to compare this variation across a number of decorating species. Here we show that two sympatric species A. picta and A. aetherea construct different forms of web decorations as adults and that A. picta decorates at a higher frequency than A. aetherea. Furthermore, this difference in decoration frequency may be related to the different decoration forms (linear or cruciate) across this genus. We also show that native bees responded significantly more quickly to cruciate decorations than to linear decorations. Here we argue that consideration of the different decoration forms and the frequency at which spiders adorn their webs may help illuminate possible context-dependent functions for these curious structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3833-3845
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Natural History
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2006

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