Okay, it’s a nice summer evening and here’s some fun: Researchers found that hurricanes promote the emergence of aggressive spiders:
As a species, A. studiosus is divided into two sets of inherited personality traits: docile and aggressive. The aggressiveness of a colony is determined by the speed and number of attackers that respond to prey, the tendency to cannibalize males and eggs, the vulnerability to infiltration by predatory foreign spiders, among other characteristics.
Aggressive colonies, for example, are better at acquiring resources when scarce but are also more prone to infighting when deprived of food for long periods of time or when colonies become overheated.
“Tropical cyclones likely impact both of these stressors by altering the numbers of flying prey and increasing sun exposure from a more open canopy layer,” explains Pruitt. “Aggressiveness is passed down through generations in these colonies, from parent to daughter, and is a major factor in their survival and ability to reproduce.”
The analysis suggested that after a tropical cyclone event, colonies with more aggressive foraging responses produced more egg cases and had more spiderlings survive into early winter. The trend was consistent across multiple storms that varied in size, duration and intensity, suggesting the effects are robust evolutionary responses, says Pruitt.McMaster University, “Researchers find hurricanes drive the evolution of more aggressive spiders” at Eurekalert
Here’s the open-access study.
One researcher sees a prophecy in this:
Lead author Jonathon Pruitt, an evolutionary biologist at McCaster University said: “Tropical cyclones likely impact both of these stressors by altering the numbers of flying prey and increasing sun exposure from a more open canopy layer.
“Aggressiveness is passed down through generations in these colonies, from parent to daughter, and is a major factor in their survival and ability to reproduce.”
He added: “As sea levels rise, the incidence of tropical storms will only increase. Now more than ever we need to contend with what the ecological and evolutionary impacts of these storms will be for non-human animals.”Phoebe Weston, “Hurricanes help aggressive spiders spread, study finds” at The Independent
You will be glad to learn, via USA Today: “The spiders are not aggressive towards humans, rather in their own environments for survival purposes.”
Maybe we could get the aggressive spiders to attack household ants, flies, and cockroaches then?
Seriously, the main question is, when the weather calms down, won’t the spiders tend to just stop being so aggressive? It’s interesting if this is what is meant by “robust evolutionary responses.”
See also: Researchers puzzle over a dolphin who adopted ababy melon-headed whale
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