News

Urban spider study reaps awards


28 August 2013

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lowe, PhD candidate in the Hochuli lab, has won the award for best student presentation at the recentInternational Congress of Arachnology.

Spider lovers: Shawn Wilder, Lizzy Lowe, Francesca van den Berg and Sean Blamires at the conference dinner.
Spider lovers: Shawn Wilder, Lizzy Lowe, Francesca van den Berg and Sean Blamires at the conference dinner.

Lizzy's study of the Golden Orb-weaving Spider (Nephila plumpies) investigated the effect of urbanisation on the spider's size and condition. "I found that spider size and fecundity increase with urbanisation at multiple scales," explained Lizzy. "So urbanisation is positively affecting the fitness of this species."

The idea of urbanisation affects on 'multiple scales' is of particular interest to town planners and local environment groups. "It's not just changes to the immediate habitat, but also the changes made to the surrounding area which can affect fitness or size."

The 19th International Arachnology Congress was held in June in Taiwan. "The conference was great because everyone was really interested and I got some good feedback. I think there is growing interest in urban ecology and I really enjoyed the opportunity to present my work."