Papers in the Biological Sciences


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Urban Ecosystems, 2023



Copyright © 2023 Brandi J. Pessman, Madison Hays, Earl Agpawa, & Eileen A. Hebets, under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Used by permission.


Animals distribute themselves within habitats based on a variety of environmental conditions, including those impacted by urbanization. Suspected global declines in urban arthropod biodiversity have required that we examine how urban conditions affect the distribution of this ecologically important group. Throughout North America, funnel-weaving spiders (Agelenidae) are prevalent across urban habitats and actively choose sites to build webs. We compared Agelenopsis pennsylvanica abundance and distribution between two distinct urban habitats: an urban center (university campus) and an urban forest (city park). These urban habitats differed significantly in features like plant diversity and proximity to roads and highways. We searched along paths from randomly selected start sites in each habitat until we found the first occupied (focal) web. Within a ten-meter radius of the focal web, we found that both (i) webs and (ii) spiders were more abundant in the urban center than in the urban forest. We also found (iii) shorter distances between webs and (iv) lower web heights in the urban center. Generally, spiders were more abundant and aggregated at sites that had lower plant diversity. Abundance decreased with increased road-traffic impact. Thus, A. pennsylvanica exhibits different spatial patterns across distinct urban habitats, which relates, in part, to differences in environmental conditions. The suggested importance of road and highway impacts on A. pennsylvanica distribution may signify that vibratory noise plays an essential role in this system. Since vibratory information use is ubiquitous across arthropods, future research should further address how vibratory noise may impact urban arthropod spatial patterns.

Includes supplementary materials