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The night-time temporal window of locomotor activity in the Namib Desert long-distance wandering spider, Leucorchestris arenicola.


Nørgaard, T; Henschel, J R; Wehner, R (2006). The night-time temporal window of locomotor activity in the Namib Desert long-distance wandering spider, Leucorchestris arenicola. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 129(4):365-372.

Abstract

Even though being active exclusively after sunset, the male Leucorchestris arenicola spiders are able to return to their point of departure by following bee-line routes of up to several hundreds of meters in length. While performing this kind of long-distance path integration they must rely on external cues to adjust for navigational errors. Many external cues which could be used by the spiders change dramatically or disappear altogether in the transition period from day to night. Hence, it is therefore imperative to know exactly when after sunset the spiders navigate in order to find out how they do it. To explore this question, we monitored their locomotor activity with data loggers equipped with infrared beam sensors. Our results show that the male spiders are most active in the period between the end and the beginning of the astronomical twilight period. Moreover, they prefer the moonless, i.e. darkest times at night. Hence, we conclude that the males are truly-and extremely-nocturnal. We further show that they are able to navigate under the very dim light conditions prevailing on moonless nights, and thus do not have to rely on the moon or on moon-related patterns of polarised light as potential compass cues.

Even though being active exclusively after sunset, the male Leucorchestris arenicola spiders are able to return to their point of departure by following bee-line routes of up to several hundreds of meters in length. While performing this kind of long-distance path integration they must rely on external cues to adjust for navigational errors. Many external cues which could be used by the spiders change dramatically or disappear altogether in the transition period from day to night. Hence, it is therefore imperative to know exactly when after sunset the spiders navigate in order to find out how they do it. To explore this question, we monitored their locomotor activity with data loggers equipped with infrared beam sensors. Our results show that the male spiders are most active in the period between the end and the beginning of the astronomical twilight period. Moreover, they prefer the moonless, i.e. darkest times at night. Hence, we conclude that the males are truly-and extremely-nocturnal. We further show that they are able to navigate under the very dim light conditions prevailing on moonless nights, and thus do not have to rely on the moon or on moon-related patterns of polarised light as potential compass cues.

Citations

9 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:1 April 2006
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0340-7594
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00359-005-0072-7
PubMed ID:16283328

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