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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

14 - The multiple disguises of spiders


This chapter aims at a broad exploration of the literature pertinent to the subject of spider camouflage, from web colour and decorations, body colour to movement. It is an extended and updated version of a previous paper (Théry & Casas 2009). Several functions have been assigned to spider web decorations, the most extensively studied being visually related, like camouflage from predator and/or prey, prey attraction and signalling to animals that are likely to damage the web (Herberstein et al. 2000; Bruce 2006). The function of these structures is highly controversial, as also are other visual aspects of spider ecology, like the appearance of spiders themselves. Moreover, a few spider species have the ability to change their body coloration, a peculiarity that has been suggested to improve camouflage or to constitute a form of aggressive mimicry (Oxford & Gillespie 1998). Are such visual appearances used to lure prey, deter predators or hide from predators or prey?

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