Tag Archives: brown widow

Dispersal In A Globally-Invasive Widow Spider

This is a guest post by Dr. Monica Mowery.

Title Image Credit: Sean McCann, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped

Dispersal and life history of brown widow spiders in dated invasive populations on two continents (2022) Mowery et al., Animal Behaviour, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.02.006

The Crux

As I write this, I can hear invasive myna birds chirping in the trees outside, and see yellow pollen from the invasive Acacia trees floating through the air. What makes these species able to thrive far away from their native habitat? Despite the knowledge of how harmful invasive species can be, humans continue to transport species to new environments, both intentionally and unintentionally. Yet even with the explosive growth of both invasive species and invasion ecologists, we still don’t know a lot about which traits make the most successful invaders that can thrive and spread to new places.

One way to investigate this is to compare invasive populations that have just arrived at a new place, with populations that have been in an area for a long time. To better understand invasive species, we need to figure out how traits shift in invasive populations, as some individuals survive transport, establish, and spread to new habitats, expanding their range. When this happens, traits can change, or shift, as the species adapt to the new environment. Such traits, such as body size, number of offspring, and dispersal ability, may be particularly important during range expansion. This study is an investigation into how traits of invasive spiders shift on a broad geographic scale on two continents.

Read more