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Journal of Experimental Biology
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 212  |  Issue: 12  |  Page No.: 1832 - 1839

Detritus decorations of an orb-weaving spider, Cyclosa mulmeinensis (Thorell): for food or camouflage?

E. J Tan and D. Li    

Abstract: Eunice J. Tan and Daiqin Li

Many species of the orb-web spider genus Cyclosa often adorn their webs with decorations of prey remains, egg sacs and/or plant detritus, termed `detritus decorations'. These detritus decorations have been hypothesised to camouflage the spider from predators or prey and thus reduce predation risk or increase foraging success. In the present study, we tested these two alternative hypotheses simultaneously using two types of detritus decorations (prey remain and egg sac) built by Cyclosa mulmeinensis (Thorell). By monitoring the possible responses of predators to spiders on their webs with and without decorations in the field, we tested whether web decorations would reduce the mortality of spiders. Wasp predators were observed to fly in the vicinity of webs with decorations slightly more often than in the vicinity of webs without decorations but there were very few attacks on spiders by wasps. By comparing the insect interception rates of webs with and without decorations in the field, we tested whether web decorations would increase the foraging success....

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