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      A comparison of morphology and web geometry between hypogean and epigean species of Metellina orb spiders (family Tetragnathidae)

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      Subterranean Biology

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Studies on the behaviour of subterranean animals are rare, mainly due to the problems with collecting data in these inaccessible habitats. Web-building cave spiders, however, leave a semi-permanent record of their foraging behaviour, which can relatively easily be recorded. In this study, we compare size, leg lengths and web characteristics between hypogean populations of Metellina merianae with its close wood-inhabiting relative M. mengei. We confirm previous observations that M. merianae does not show any obvious morphological and behavioural adaptions to a subterranean life-style, although individuals of the cave species were significantly larger and had webs with relatively fewer radii and capture spiral turns than M. mengei. We were, however, not able to determine if these findings indicate a transition towards behavioural adaptation to caves or if they are a result of behavioural flexibility in response to the different humidity and temperature between caves and woodland. Finally, we did not find any effect of cave characteristics on either the number of radii or the area of the M. merianae web.

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          Most cited references 39

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          The cave environment.

           Carl White,  T Poulson (1969)
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            Data Analysis

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              Function and Phylogeny of Spider Webs

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Subterranean Biology
                SB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2615
                1768-1448
                August 19 2019
                August 19 2019
                : 32
                : 1-13
                Article
                10.3897/subtbiol.32.36222
                © 2019

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