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Australian spider grows bigger in city: study

AFP-JIJI

A new study has found that at least one species of spider thrives on city life, growing bigger in urban areas.

The University of Sydney’s Elizabeth Lowe said that while research shows invertebrates are sensitive to urbanization, not all species are negatively affected by living in cities.

Golden orb-weaving spiders, which are common in both urban and natural environments in Sydney and its environs, are getting fattest in built-up areas with the most concrete, roads and buildings.

Lowe, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s school of biological sciences, ascribes the finding to the idea that concrete holds heat, meaning city spiders’ days and nights are warmer than those of their bush cousins. Meanwhile, urban parks are a good source of food for spiders because lighting in these areas attract insect prey.

Lowe said the researchers did not know why they also found the golden orb-weaving spiders, Nephila plumipes, are larger in the wealthier pockets of Sydney.

“We think that it could be that in the wealthier areas people put more money into land management,” she said, meaning more parks and greater biodiversity in these areas.

Lowe said the fact that any species could thrive in an urban area was a positive. “We think it’s a good thing that anything can live in cities,” she said.