The Elements of Evolution (43-2-1) Tropical Rainforest Spiders

 Tropical Rainforest Spiders

Preferring lives of solitude, spiders rarely live in groups. But if conditions warrant, spiders do what it takes.

In the mountain highlands of Ecuador, cobweb spider families stay together to help each other raise offspring.

Though not especially hospitable, highland conditions are milder than in the tropical rainforests which lie below. There, strong rains and powerful ant predators make life for solitary spiders untenable. Even small groups are easily overwhelmed. So, cobweb spiders in the rainforest form large colonies. A single colony may comprise tens of thousands of spiders which cover an entire tree canopy in a giant web: the power of cooperation.

The spiders make dense webs that require a lot of silk. When the webs get damaged by strong rains or colonies are attacked by predators, some spiders can protect their offspring while others go and make the repairs. ~ Ecuadoran evolutionary biologist Leticia Avilés

Ecuadoran spiders are not the only ones to come together when living otherwise is unwise. Social living among spiders has arisen independently many times.