Tags: city | spiders | bigger

City Spiders Get Bigger, Multiply Faster Than Country Cousins

Image: City Spiders Get Bigger, Multiply Faster Than Country Cousins
A European garden spider sits in its net on August 22, 2014 in Berlin. (Wolfgang Kumm/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 22 Aug 2014 07:11 AM

City spiders appear to be growing larger and multiplying faster than their rural cousins, scientists revealed this week.

According to Plos One, the journal that published the study this Wednesday, paved surfaces, spare vegetation, and garbage contribute to an environment that is altogether helpful to one species in particular: the golden orb weaver (Nephila plumipes). 

To answer their questions about urbanizations effect on the species, researchers from the University of Sydney collected 222 females from a variety of environments both urban and rural, noting the conditions they were found in.

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By measuring and comparing four aspects of the spiders — longest leg segment, leg-to-body-weight ratio, fat levels, and ovary size — the team discovered that the data pointed resoundingly to cities as the most nurturing. Not only did the spiders grow larger and fatter (and more terrifying) in cities, but their ability to reproduce went through the roof; many had ovaries that counted for 39 percent of their total body weight.

"The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation," said Elizabeth Lowe, a doctoral candidate at the university's School of Biological Sciences, according to Wired.

To many, the idea of cities as nurturing environments runs counter to nearly every notion we have of them, however the researchers have laid out a few possibilities as to why they work for spiders.

"Hard surfaces retain heat, leading to the urban island-heat effect," said Lowe. "This increase in temperatures is likely what is leading to increased growth of the spiders."

Additionally, Lowe pointed out that golden orb spiders spend their entire lives in one place, fixing their spherical webs over and over. Conditions in urban environments are usually more stable, and hard surfaces provide protection. City garbage also breeds a host of insects for the spiders to prey on.

As a terrifying side note, the males, who are much smaller than the females, hang out on the edges of the web, waiting for their chance to mate. Occasionally, the female will eat him after they do.

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City spiders appear to be growing larger and multiplying faster than their rural cousins, scientists revealed this week.
city, spiders, bigger
371
2014-11-22
Friday, 22 Aug 2014 07:11 AM
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