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Journal Article

Evolutionary Shifts in the Spectral Properties of Spider Silks

Catherine L. Craig, Gary D. Bernard and Jonathan A. Coddington
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Apr., 1994), pp. 287-296
DOI: 10.2307/2410093
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410093
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Evolutionary Shifts in the Spectral Properties of Spider Silks
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Abstract

We measured the reflectance properties of unpigmented silks spun by a systematic array of primitive (Deinopoidea) and derived (Araneoidea) aerial, web-spinning spiders, as well as silks spun by Araneomorphae and Mygalomorphae spiders that do not spin aerial webs. Our data show that all of the primitive aerial web spinners produce catching silks with a spectral peak in the ultraviolet (UV), and cladistic analysis suggests that high UV reflection is the primitive character state for silk spectral properties. In contrast, all of the derived aerial web spinners produce silks that are spectrally flat or characterized by reduced reflectance in the UV. Correlated with the evolution of these catching silks is a 37-fold increase in species number and apparent habitat expansion. This suggests that the unique silk proteins spun by the araneoids have been important to their ecological and evolutionary diversity.

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