Journal of Urban Ecology
Urbanization, Disturbance, Urban-Rural Gradient, Edge Effects, South Florida
Urbanization typically leads to habitat destruction producing negative effects for native species, but some species may exploit these settings. This concept was investigated in the golden silk spider (Nephila clavipes), a large, formidable spider that commonly inhabits forest edges as well as open spaces in urban environments throughout its vast geographic range. Here, we compared variation of N. clavipes success as measured by body size, web size and web positioning along an urban–rural gradient in southern Florida. From morphological measurements collected in the field, urban spiders had 60% longer legs and 35% longer bodies than both park and rural spiders. Furthermore, webs of urban spiders were considerably larger and constructed significantly further from the ground than those of park and rural habitats. The combined observations of body size, web measurements and prominent web placement suggest that N. clavipesare successful exploiters of urban environments relative to park and rural settings in southern Florida. Although previous research has generally focused on the negative aspects of urbanization on animal welfare, this study provides evidence suggesting N. clavipes might benefit from these environmental changes.
Ripp, Jake; Omar T. Eldakar; Andrew C. Gallup; and Paul T. Arena. 2018. "The Successful Exploitation of Urban Environments by the Golden Silk Spider, Nephila clavipes (Araneae, Nephilidae)." Journal of Urban Ecology 4, (1): 1-6. doi:10.1093/jue/juy005.