SPIDEY SENSE: Jonothan Pruitt and Team Discover how Spiders Handle Climate Change Depending on their Personalities


Having a personality may seem like a uniquely human trait — but research increasingly suggests that it is evident in the animal kingdom as well. And for some critters, personality type may make all the difference in whether they can survive in a given environment.

At least, that’s the takeaway from a new study on spiders, which suggests that personality may be a matter of life and death in different temperatures. The study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, suggests that spiders with aggressive personality types fare better in cooler temperatures, while docile personalities are better suited to warm temperatures. Most notably, though, colonies of spiders in which both are represented tend to do well in all conditions, suggesting that different personality types may provide important social support for one another...

Co-author Jonathan Pruitt of UC Santa Barbara also pointed out that aggressive individuals will become even more aggressive as temperatures rise — and in colonies composed only of this personality type, that can lead to fighting among group members.

“Fighting is costly,” he told The Post by email. “Individuals waste energy doing it, they can get injured, and time spent fighting is time taken away from other important tasks, like capturing prey or repairing the web. The relationship between temperature and aggression is often exponential too, which means that the effects of ramping up the temperature from 80 to 85 Fahrenheit is very different from ramping it 85 to 90 or 90 to 95, and so on.”


A male subsocial spider Anelosimus studiosus with prey in a messy web typical of this widespread species. Photo credit: Alex Wild

News Date: 

Thursday, July 28, 2016