Observations have led to the findings that many spiders decorate their webs with conspicuous UV-reflecting designs, thus, making them attractive and bright for some insect species as well as birds. As far as the function of such web decorations are concerned, it is a topic widely debated, with two primary hypotheses: More efficiency in capturing prey A defense mechanism against predators Our project hopes to study the spider species in India and their engagement in web decorations. Based on that, we look forward to bifurcate and expand the area of understanding of these two hypotheses.
Contrary to the basic idea that spider webs should be invisible to the prey, some spider species decorate their webs with designs. What’s interesting is that these decorations often have the ability to reflect UV light, which makes it brighter for some birds and insects. Though the mentions of spider web decorations were made a century ago, yet there has not been any significant insight into the functionality of it. While some biologists argue that it is an enhancement strategy to attract preys, others are more inclined towards believing that it is a defense mechanism for them, arguing that thedecorations may conceal the spider body or make it appear bigger than it is.
Spiders are the most commonplace and abundant predator within the terrestrial ecosystems. It was found thatspiders could consume about 42,490 kg/hectare of prey per year, thus, making these creatures important suppressors of insect populations. Moreover, it is possible that spiders can have a“buffer effect” on insects of agroecosystems. Also, spiders that decorate their webs spiders may be foraging selectively for pollinating insects, as many flowers also have UV-reflecting markers to guide their insect partners. Thus, it is very important to extensively study and understand the foraging habits and strategies of spiders in order to comprehend how a plant-herbivorous-predator system works within the food chain.
To examine how different patterns of web decorations affect insect attraction and, consequently, prey capture; To explore the function of the decorations’ UV-reflecting properties in attraction of prey, such as pollinating insects like bees; To interpret the efficiency of prey interception in relation web decoration predictability, since insects could learn to avoid repetitive patterns; To examine the role of the presence of web decorations in the attack rate of visually-oriented predators, such as birds; To try to separate the effect of web decoration on predator avoidance and on prey interception.
In order to study the spider species in India, we need to acquire the above-mentioned tools. In addition to that, we also need to incur transportation costs for field trips and excursions to various possible spots where we can find and study spider web decorations. We sincerely hope that you will help us raise the proposed budget for the project with your generous donations.