Have you ever walked around the city in the summer? Then you know it can get very hot because of all the asphalt and the concrete that retains the heat! Staying cool in this heat is not only a problem for humans, but also for animals. But this is just one of the challenges they face. The city is a completely new environment that they must be able to adapt to. Cities can therefore be seen as "living laboratories" where evolution takes place in real time! In the project we want to investigate through Citizen Science how spiders can adapt to city life.
We focus on two important spider traits: color and webs.
Spider color: Much like a white car heats up less in the sun compared to a black car, so does a lighter spider heat up less compared to a dark spider. Therefore we expect city spiders to evolve a more lighter color as this protects them from overheating in an already hot city.
Spider webs: As the main tool for prey capture, webs are crucial for spider survival. Due to a lower supply of prey in cities, we expect to see webs with a smaller mesh size that are more efficient in capturing prey.
Why study adaptations to city living in spiders?
Not only do we get crucial information about how animals can adapt to climate change, studying spiders can also be very useful for us humans! We can use spider color as a natural thermometer and thus better determine how quickly our environment heats up. And who knows, by examining in detail how a spider uses color to stay cool, we might even find new ways of staying cool in the city ourselves.
Read more about SpiderSpotter project on www.spiderspotter.com!
The project runs on the SPOTTERON Citizen Science platform.