Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Does decoration building influence antipredator responses in an orb-web spider (Argiope keyserlingi) in its natural habitat?

Sean J. Blamires A B , Dieter F. Hochuli A and Michael B. Thompson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Heydon-Laurence Building A08, Biological Sciences and Institute of Wildlife Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Zoology 55(1) 1-7
Submitted: 23 November 2006  Accepted: 12 January 2007   Published: 23 March 2007


Antipredator strategies adopted by animals need to compensate for temporal changes. Many orb-web spiders add silk decorations to their webs, which principally attract prey but may attract some predators. To identify their influence on antipredator behaviour in adult female St Andrew’s cross spiders (Argiope keyserlingi) we measured: spider body condition, web characteristics (area, spiral length and decoration building), environmental variables (air temperature, humidity, wind speed, relative prey abundance) and antipredator responses (remaining at the hub, dropping, shifting to the web periphery, or pumping the web) at three distinct periods (July–August, September–October and January–February) in the field. We developed path models from multiple regression analyses to distinguish between factors having direct and indirect effects. We found that even though both antipredator responses and decoration building change over time, antipredator responses and decoration investment are independent. Body condition and wind speed are directly positively associated with pumping frequency, and decoration building is negatively associated with the frequency of remaining at the hub because the likelihood that an object approaching the web is a predator increases if decorations are added. Wind speed is positively associated with antipredator behaviour and decoration building, due to an increased rate of feeding affecting body condition.


This research was supported by a University of Sydney Postgraduate scholarship awarded to SJB. We thank T. Blackledge, M. Herberstein, D. Li, J. Lind and D. Mott for comments on drafts of the paper and J. Lim for providing bee tags. All experiments comply with the current laws and ethical practices of the Commonwealth of Australia.


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