Spider sociality and web structures

As a postdoc from 2016-2017, I collaborated with Alex Jordan at the MPI in Konstanz and the artist Tomás Saraceno as a Scientist-in-Residence in Tomás’ studio in Berlin. Based on the Spider Web Scan laser-supported tomographic apparatus and method developed by Tomás and STS in collaboration with the TU Darmstadt in 2009/2010, I worked on an extended and refined prototype for improved scanning of complex three-dimensional spider web structures. I also built an experimental arena that could be imaged with the laser scanning system and designed an experiment to examine the influence of prey levels on aggregative web construction and social behavior in the bridge spider, Larinioides sclopetarius, which I started to conduct with the help of Roland Mühlethaler and the team at STS. We achieved some cool early results towards the 3D reconstruction of complex webs, and Tomás and the studio have since continued work in this direction to great success with Markus Buehler’s group at MIT, as described in the recent paper by Su et al.