Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Biology Letters 12: 20160152. doi 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0152


Copyright © 2016 Jay A. Stafstrom and Eileen A. Hebets. Published by the Royal Society. Used by permission.


Animals that possess extreme sensory structures are predicted to have a related extreme behavioral function. This study focuses on one such extreme sensory structure—the posterior median eyes of the net-casting spider Deinopis spinosa. Although past research has implicated the importance of vision in the nocturnal foraging habits of Deinopis, no direct link between vision in the enlarged eyes and nocturnal foraging has yet been made. To directly test the hypothesis that the enlarged posterior median eyes facilitate visually based nocturnal prey capture, we conducted repeated-measures, visual occlusion trials in both natural and laboratory settings. Our results indicate that D. spinosa relies heavily on visual cues detected by the posterior median eyes to capture cursorial prey items. We suggest that the enlarged posterior median eyes benefit D. spinosa not only through increased diet breadth, but also by allowing spiders to remain active solely at night, thus evading predation by diurnal animals.