Location

Schewel 232

Access Type

Campus Access Only

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

April 2022

Department

Biology

Abstract

The study of social and colonial spider species in the neotropics has aided in creating hypotheses for the evolution of sociality in spiders. Mecynogea lemniscata is a species of spider that is identifiable by its distinct dome-shaped web. M. lemiscata has not been previously described as a social species, but the observations of this research indicate that the species does form social aggregations, or colonies, and should be classified as a colonial species. Unlike most described social spider species, M. lemiscata inhabits a temperate climate, with its known range extending across the eastern United States. The purpose of this study was to collect baseline natural history data on the species and gain an understanding of their colonial systems. Preliminary observations suggested individuals within a colony may have a non-random distribution dependent on their characteristics. Data was collected in the field from several colonies within Lynchburg, Va. The structure of each colony was examined by looking for relationships between each spider’s size, number of web connections, web size, and number of egg sacs. The relationship between connectedness and each characteristic was analyzed using a Pearson’s correlation test. The social system was found to take a colonial form, with spiders living within communities that shared structural webs, and each individual female maintaining her own web. The results did not support the hypothesis of a non-random distribution. However, the data collected on the species’ social systems indicated that they are a colonial species, and allowed for comparisons to be made between this temperate social species, and previously studied social species of the neotropics. The findings and data collected from this project provide a better understanding of M. lemniscata as a species, and can hopefully serve as a baseline for further research on this species and social spider species in general.

Key words: spider, sociality, Mecynogea lemniscata, Basilica Orb-weaver, colony, webs

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kari Benson Dr. Priscilla Gannicott Dr. Price Blair

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Apr 6th, 9:00 AM

An Investigation of the Basilica Orbweaver and their Coloniality

Schewel 232

The study of social and colonial spider species in the neotropics has aided in creating hypotheses for the evolution of sociality in spiders. Mecynogea lemniscata is a species of spider that is identifiable by its distinct dome-shaped web. M. lemiscata has not been previously described as a social species, but the observations of this research indicate that the species does form social aggregations, or colonies, and should be classified as a colonial species. Unlike most described social spider species, M. lemiscata inhabits a temperate climate, with its known range extending across the eastern United States. The purpose of this study was to collect baseline natural history data on the species and gain an understanding of their colonial systems. Preliminary observations suggested individuals within a colony may have a non-random distribution dependent on their characteristics. Data was collected in the field from several colonies within Lynchburg, Va. The structure of each colony was examined by looking for relationships between each spider’s size, number of web connections, web size, and number of egg sacs. The relationship between connectedness and each characteristic was analyzed using a Pearson’s correlation test. The social system was found to take a colonial form, with spiders living within communities that shared structural webs, and each individual female maintaining her own web. The results did not support the hypothesis of a non-random distribution. However, the data collected on the species’ social systems indicated that they are a colonial species, and allowed for comparisons to be made between this temperate social species, and previously studied social species of the neotropics. The findings and data collected from this project provide a better understanding of M. lemniscata as a species, and can hopefully serve as a baseline for further research on this species and social spider species in general.

Key words: spider, sociality, Mecynogea lemniscata, Basilica Orb-weaver, colony, webs