Population studies of two colonial orb‐weaving spiders

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16 Scopus citations


Colonial spiders have individual capture webs (territories) within a communally shared web structure. I describe here the life histories and colony population dynamics of two communal species, Ctrtophora moluccensis (Doleschall) (Araneidae) in Papua New Guinea and Philoponella republicana (Simon) (Uloboridae) in the Panama Canal Zone. In both species, dispersal and foundation of new colonies are primarily by groups of immatures. Population growth of new‐colonies was rapid during the first generation, but then colony population size decreased markedly. Colonies of P. republicana rarely lasted more than one generation, whereas those of C. moluccensis attained an equilibrium population size and often persisted for many generations at the same site. Reproduction occurred during the wet season in P. republicana colonies and year‐round in colonies of C. moluccensis. Reproduction was synchronized in widely separated colonies of P. republicana. Factors controlling population growth and survival of colonies are discussed. Cyrtophora moluccensis colonies were probably regulated by density dependant factors, especially predation and parasitism, and perhaps a shortage of flying insects due to colony visibility. Philoponella republicana colonies were most likely limited by climatic conditions and instability of the habitat (i.e. density independent factors). Colonial social organization influences both dispersal and colony population growth. Coloniality is, however, compatible with various life history strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-287
Number of pages23
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1980
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyrtophora moluccensis
  • Philoponella republicana
  • colonial spiders
  • life history
  • population dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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