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How Climate Affects A Spider’s “Personality”

August 19th, 2016

When we think of spiders we do not think of them as being rich with personality. Spiders are more like mindless organisms that live for nothing more than satisfying their instinctual needs. However, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that spiders do indeed have personality, and what type of personality a spider has can determine its fate.

The researchers believe that climate change could potentially have a major effect on how spider populations are constituted from generation to generation. In order to test the idea that temperature could influence gene flow in spider populations the researchers used the tangle web spider in the experiments. Tangle web spiders are known for possessing one of two possible personality traits–docile and aggressive.

The researchers learned that the aggressive spiders would die if the temperature in their environment reached ninety three degrees Fahrenheit, while the docile spiders were able to survive and thrive when exposed to temperatures in the nineties. Interestingly all of the spiders were able to survive the 93 degree heat when they were all mixed together. So the aggressive tangle web spiders can only survive high heat environments when they are sharing an environment with docile spiders. This finding indicated to scientists that the selective pressures were to heavy to bear for the aggressive spiders when they were not mixed with their docile counterparts. In other words diversity is a good thing for tangle web spiders, and it makes you wonder if diversity would not also be a major benefit to human survival as well.

In this particular experiment what would have been the most likely cause of the mass deaths of the aggressive spiders? Did they all kill each other fighting over resources?

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