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Spider real estate wars: Wake up early

Big spiders in a colony get prime real estate day after day by spinning webs early, researchers suggest.

Timing plays a huge role in determining the web positions of the social orb weaver Metepeira incrassata, say Linda S. Rayor of Cornell University and George W. Uetz of the University of Cincinnati. They monitored colonies in Mexico, where hundreds of spiders rebuild their urban sprawl of closely spaced structures every day (SN: 5/8/99, p. 300: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/5_8_99/bob2.htm).

Predators nab disproportionately more of the spiders in the slums at the colony margins, the researchers report in the May Animal Behaviour. "I had anticipated that the spiders would get up every morning and fight with each other to get to build in the safer core," Rayor recalls.

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