Main Article Content
By Kami Previte, Biological Sciences
Advisor: George Uetz
Presentation ID: 258
Abstract: Invertebrates, like spiders, are often thought incapable of learning, although recent studies have shown their behavior can and does change with experience. In this project, we investigated whether feeding methods affect lab raised wolf spiders. In our lab research, we bring wolf spiders (Schizocosa ocreata) from the field into lab containers, where they are fed crickets using an aspirator. We wanted to know if S. ocreata is able to associate the puff of air from the aspirator with food, and if so, does this mean that spiders are able to overcome an innate fear response with reinforcement and learning? To test this hypothesis, we manipulated aspects of the feeding regime (i.e., the presence/absence of an aspirator tube, and the presence/absence of an air puff) paired with food reinforcement (crickets). Feeding trials were conducted successively over a four-day period, where response behaviors of spiders (capture latency, capture success) were recorded and scored. After four days of training, spider behavior changed in a similar manner for both sexes. Regardless of sex, prey capture latency was significantly shorter in the presence of an air puff compared to the aspirator. These results suggest spiders are capable of learning to associate a positive reward (food) with a negative stimulus (air puff) to which they have an innate fear response.