Extreme weather may lead to more aggressive spiders

Subject: Evolutionary consequences of extreme weather on spiders, potentially making them more aggressive - Comments and suggestions are welcome! Don't hesitate and leave a comment on our comment section down below the article!

By Universal-Sci

A team from McMaster University in Hamilton conducted a behavioral study on spiders and discovered that severe weather may have an impact on their aggressiveness through evolutionary ways. They came to this conclusion as they found that aggressive spiders had an advantage when it comes to survival odds in extreme weather circumstances.

The researchers studied populations of spiders that live in regions that frequently encounter storms. It seems that extreme weather has the ability to alter the living space of these spiders. Storms, cyclones and hurricanes have the ability to take down trees and scatter fragments of debris everywhere, making severe changes to the living space of spiders and other organisms.

Changes in global weather pasterns due to climate change may further increase pressure on these populations. According to Jonathan Pruitt (one of the researchers) the amount of tropical storms will increase as sea levels rise. According to him it is important that we contend with the evolutionary impacts on non-human animals. We can only agree with this statement as it is clear that mankind’s main concern regarding climate change has thus-far been mainly concentrated on its impact on humans.

On a practical level the research has been done through an examination of female spider colonies of a specific spider species called Anelosimus studiosus, a type of cobweb spider that can be found in north and south America. They studied specific populations that live in areas prone to tropical storms.

One particular fact inherent to the Anelosimus studiosus spiders is that there are two different sets of personality traits within the species. One docile and laid-back, the other more aggressive. Aggressive colonies are better at dealing with changing environments and circumstances as they, among other things, respond quicker to prey and predatory foreign spiders. While this behavior has its disadvantages apparently they are better at finding food in the face of scarcity which gives them the edge when it comes to the odds of surviving with more frequent extreme weather events.

According to research published in the Journal of Climate, there are still some questions regarding a projected increased frequency of storms due to climate change however, models do project a 45-87 percent increase of category 4 and 5 hurricanes. This study shows that if the amount of tropical storms and or hurricanes really increases in the future, we can expect the species to become more aggressive as a whole.

Sources and further reading: McMAster University news release / Anelosimus studiosus / Hurricanes and climate change


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