Climate Change Is Causing a Spider Baby Boom in the Arctic
Climate change, it seems, is causing a spider baby boom in the Arctic, according to new research. A study published in the Proceedings of Royal Society B saw researchers in Denmark study wolf spiders from Zackenberg, Greenland.
They found that the spiders were having more babies due to the warmer weather. This is considered normal behavior for spiders in warmer climates but there has never before been any evidence that the short summers in the Arctic could become long enough for that to happen.
The scientists found that the spiders produced one clutch of eggs for some years and two clutches on other years. This depended on how early the snow disappeared.
"In years with earlier snowmelt, first clutches occurred earlier and the proportion of second clutches produced was larger," the researchers wrote in their study.
"Likely, females produce their first clutch earlier in those years which allow them time to produce another clutch."
The researchers studied the spiders for 19 years. They found that as the snowmelt moved earlier in the year, the insects went from never having second clutches in the 1990s to doing so more than half the time in the 2010s.
The scientists also found that the second clutches were smaller than the first ones. Second clutches contained fewer than 50 eggs, as opposed to about 100 in the first clutches. This may be signalling that spiders are will likely adapt and produce more and more offspring each year.
However, what surprised the researchers the most was that second clutches appeared an average of 20 days after the first ones. Normally, the gap is usually around 30 days
The researchers attributed this difference to the summer days in the Arctic that contain more sunlight. This also means that the area need not get much warmer for there to be consistently two clutches of wolf spider eggs every year.
More clutches also indicate larger wolf spider populations as the insects have no natural predators in the Arctic. Those suffering from arachnophobia may not want to visit the Arctic any time soon.