Sociality and web construction in spiders

From 2016-2017, I did a postdoc with Alex Jordan at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz (now the MPI for Animal Behavior), in collaboration with the artist Tomás Saraceno in Berlin. Based on the Spider Web Scan laser-supported tomographic apparatus and method developed by Tomás and the studio in collaboration with the TU Darmstadt in 2009/2010, I worked on an extended and refined prototype of this model 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 in exploring 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.