According to a recent research project, flat canopy spiders are able to glide through the air, thus maintaining their position above ground so as to keep safe from predators.
These flat spiders are extremely small and it has recently been revealed that they are able to conduct impressive gliding movements through the air, that enables them to change their position if they ever need to do so, but direct their way specifically so that they actually never make to ground level, because this is a place riddled with predators and dangerous creatures that would put them in harm’s way.
This type of gliding abilities were known for other canopy species, such as tropical ant species, but never for spiders. Therefore, the recent discovery made by University of Louisville’s Stephen Yanoviak and his team of researchers is actually ground breaking information.
They analyzed the gliding abilities of tens of canopy spiders, as they dropped them from high altitudes and then in a specialized wind tunnel in the lab, in order to be able to closely observe the process.
They study revealed that the flat canopy spiders can use their front limbs to steer their motion in the air and direct their flight in the correct direction. This is actually a superior process to that of ballooning, that is performed by other types of spiders who are able to direct their flight in the right direction by releasing silk as they fall.
The process of ballooning is that responsible for the recent occurrences of eerie sights throughout the US, where numerous spiders have ballooned at the same time, thus filling entire fields with massive amounts of webs.
This directed gliding process is more efficient than ballooning because it can be performed without wasting the silk along the way. Producing the silk entails a much higher energy consumption for the spiders.
Biologist Stephen Yanoviak pointed out that “the significance of this behavior is that spiders are able to more easily and safely return to the canopy if they are dislodged from the trunks on which they normally live”, as reportedby Discovery News.
Stephen Yanoviak’s research project was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface and it was met with great enthusiasm by peers.
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