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Biol Lett. 2013 May 29;9(4):20130052. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0052. Print 2013 Aug 23.

Spatial learning affects thread tension control in orb-web spiders.

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Kyoto Women's University, Kitahiyoshi-cho 35, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan.


Although it is well known that spatial learning can be important in the biology of predators that actively move around in search for food, comparatively little is known about ways in which spatial learning might function in the strategies of sit-and-wait predators. In this study, Cyclosa octotuberculata, an orb-web spider that uses its legs to contract radial threads of its web to increase thread tension, was trained to capture prey in limited web sectors. After training, spiders that had captured prey in horizontal web sectors applied more tension on radial threads connected to horizontal sectors than spiders that had captured prey in vertical sectors. This result suggests that the effect of experience on C. octotuberculata's behaviour is not expressed in the way the trained spider responds to prey-derived stimuli and is instead expressed in behaviour by which the spider anticipates the likely direction from which prey will arrive in the future. This illustrates that learning can be important even when the predator remains in one location during foraging bouts.


foraging strategy; tactile sense; thread tension; vibration signals from prey

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