Attention focusing in a sit-and-wait forager: a spider controls its prey-detection ability in different web sectors by adjusting thread tension

Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Jan 7;277(1678):29-33. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1583. Epub 2009 Oct 7.


Focusing attention is a way for animals to search for and to obtain food efficiently. This study examines whether a sit-and-wait forager, the orb-web spider Cyclosa octotuberculata, focuses its attention on limited foraging areas. Video records of foraging activity revealed that the spiders detected prey trapped in the west and east sectors of their web less frequently than prey trapped in the north and south sectors. Comparison of photos of the web hub area with and without spiders present revealed that the spiders pulled radii towards the centre when waiting for prey. Radius pulling is stronger in the north and south web sectors than in the west and east sectors, possibly causing more tension in radii running vertically. Experimental manipulation indicated that the spiders responded to prey quicker when thread tension was increased. The results suggest that C. octotuberculata focus their attention on the web areas above and below the spider by adjusting the tension in web threads; and this causes higher prey detection rates in these areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Predatory Behavior*
  • Spiders / physiology*
  • Video Recording