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We studied the effect of several variables (environmental and physiological) on web geometry in the garden cross spider Araneus diadematus. Variables were: web support, wind, temperature, humidity, and silk supply. All had an effect. The spiders generally attempted to fit their webs to the shape of the supporting frame (standard, small, vertical, or horizontal). Windy conditions (0.5 m s-1) during web construction caused spiders to build smaller and rounder webs, laying down fewer capture spirals while increasing the distances between capture-spiral meshes. Decreasing temperature from 24 degrees to 12 degrees C caused the capture spiral to have fewer and wider spaced meshes, which did not change overall capture area but reduced the length of capture-spiral threads laid down. Subsequent increase of temperature to 24 degrees C restored the number of meshes laid down, but the wider mesh was retained, causing the capture area to be increased over initial control values. Decreased humidity (from 70 to 20% rH) had the effect of reducing web and capture-spiral size, the latter by reducing mesh number while keeping mesh spacing constant. Subsequent increase of humidity to control level (70%) restored web and capture area. However, this was achieved by laying down capture meshes at larger distances, rather than returning to initial mesh numbers. Silk supply also had a strong effect. Webs built in unnaturally rapid succession by the same spider (4 in 24 h when 1 is the norm) became sequentially smaller, had fewer radii, shorter capture spirals, and were wider meshed.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol Behav

Publication Date





735 - 743


Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Humidity, Spiders, Temperature, Wind