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City Spiders Bigger and More Fertile Than Country Cousins August 29, 2014
Nephila plumipes - golden orb-weaving spider.
Nephila plumipes, or golden orb-weaving spider, resting in the heart of its web.
City living can be a challenge for many species of wildlife, but at least one type of spider appears to grow larger and have better success reproducing in crowded urban settings.

A team from the University of Sydney made the discovery by observing golden orb-weaving spiders, which are native to the rural landscapes of southeastern Australia.

But they have also thrived in different sites around Sydney.

Writing in the journal PLOS One, the researchers say they found that the more urban a Sydney neighborhood was, the bigger, fatter and more fertile the spiders were.

They say this proves that the species joins other urban migrants, like pigeons and raccoons, in a group biologists call “urban exploiters,” because of their ability to readily adapt to an environment filled with humans.

One theory is that heat stored in buildings, roadways and concrete, or the urban heat island effect, has led to the increased growth of the spiders.

Photo: Archive