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Many laboratory experiments demonstrate how orb-web spiders change the architecture of their webs in response to prey, surroundings and wind loading. The overall shape of the web and a range of other web parameters are determined by frame and anchor threads. In the wild, unlike the lab, the anchor threads are attached to branches and leaves that are not stationary but move, which affects the thread tension field. Here we experimentally test the effect of a moving support structure on the construction behaviour and web-parameters of the garden cross spider Araneus diadematus. We found no significant differences in building behaviour between rigid and moving anchors in total time spent and total distance covered nor in the percentage of the total time spent and distance covered to build the three major web components: radials, auxiliary and capture spirals. Moreover, measured key parameters of web-geometry were equally unaffected. These results call for re-evaluation of common understanding of spider webs as thread tensions are often considered to be a major factor guiding the spider during construction and web-operation.

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Araneus diadematus, Garden cross spider, Silk tension, Web building, Web distortion, Web geometry