Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.030502
Title: Detritus decorations of an orb-weaving spider, Cyclosa mulmeinensis (Thorell): For food or camouflage?
Authors: Tan, E.J.
Li, D. 
Keywords: Camouflage
Colour contrast
Cyclosa mulmeinensis
Web decorations
Issue Date: 15-Jun-2009
Citation: Tan, E.J., Li, D. (2009-06-15). Detritus decorations of an orb-weaving spider, Cyclosa mulmeinensis (Thorell): For food or camouflage?. Journal of Experimental Biology 212 (12) : 1832-1839. ScholarBank@NUS Repository. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.030502
Abstract: 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. Webs decorated with prey remains or egg sacs intercepted more insects than those without in the field. By calculating colour contrasts of both prey-remain and egg-sac decorations against spiders viewed by bird (blue tits) and hymenopteran (e.g. wasps) predators as well as hymenopteran (bees) prey, we showed that C. mulmeinensis spiders on webs with egg-sac decorations were invisible to both hymenopteran prey and predators and bird predators over short and long distances. While spiders on webs with prey-remain decorations were invisible to both hymenopterans and birds over short distances, spiders on webs with prey-remain decorations were visible to both predators and prey over long distances. Our results thus suggest that decorating webs with prey remains and egg sacs in C. mulmeinensis may primarily function as camouflage to conceal the spider from insects rather than as prey attractants, possibly contributing to the interception of more insect prey. However, the detritus decorations exhibit varying success as camouflage against predators, depending on whether predators are jumping spiders, wasps or birds, as well as on the decoration type.
Source Title: Journal of Experimental Biology
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/100433
ISSN: 00220949
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.030502
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