Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Elise D Ferree

Reader 2

Diane Thomson

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Rights Information

© 2013 Daniella R. Barraza


Webs are fundamental to the ecology of Nephila clavipes, the golden orb-weaver spider, because they serve as sites for prey capture, reproduction, competition, predation, and parasitism. In addition to the presence of the female N. clavipes, males and kleptoparasites reside on the web in varying numbers. Webs are also found in clusters with conspecific females. Web site selection and length of web tenure is a behavioral decision vital to the spider’s fitness and the ecology of her species. I conducted a field census to quantify these factors and analyze their influence on web tenure, compare web ecology between a forest and non-forest habitat, as well as explain the significance of N. clavipes’ web as central to many interactions. Web tenure, as well, was influenced differently by the factors between both environments. In the forest habitat, increase in prey capture rate decreased web tenure and inclusion in cluster increased web tenure. In the non-forest habitat, only increase in spider size was related to increased web tenure. There were significant differences between the two habitats in the sizes of the female spider and quantity of males and kleptoparasites. Results also showed that spider size influenced quantity of males and web diameter influenced quantity of kleptoparasites. Explanation of these results can be attributed to the complex relationships among the variables and the consequences of living in habitats impacted by human occupation.