• Study: Hurricanes are making certain spiders more aggressive

    By: Ann Smajstrla, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

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    Some species of spider are becoming more aggressive, and scientists said inclement weather, including hurricanes, are to blame.

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    A study from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, published Monday in Nature Ecology and Evolution showed that Anelosimus studiosus spiders, in particular, have become more aggressive in the wake of natural disasters.

    A. studiosis spiders are small, tangle web spiders usually found along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, Smithsonian Magazine reported. While most spider species tend to be solitary, A. studiosus spiders are social. Female A. studiosus spiders live and work in colonies with numbers in the hundreds.

    The species features both docile and aggressive spiders, Mic.com reported. The spiders aren't aggressive toward humans, only in their own environments for survival purposes.

    Researchers traveled to regions where the spiders live after they had been hit by Tropical Storm Alberto, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, and studied 240 colonies. They found that colonies that are more aggressive are better at securing resources -- which tend to be scarce after inclement weather.

    "It seems hurricanes are a bombastic example of a strong evolutionary event," lead study author Jonathan Pruitt told USA Today.

    Pruitt said that what happened in the A. studiosus spiders is rapid evolution. More studies like this are planned for the future, he said.

    "If our goal is to anticipate future conditions of the planet, we have to get a handle on what these extreme events do," Pruitt said. "It might turn out that hurricanes are great for organisms, but we don't know whether that is true or not." 

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