Mortimer B, Gordon SD, Holland C, Siviour CR, Vollrath F, Windmill JFC. 2014. The Speed of Sound in Silk: Linking Material Performance to Biological Function. Adv. Mater. 26:5179-5183.

Mortimer B, Gordon SD, Holland C, Siviour CR, Vollrath F, Windmill JFC. 2014. The Speed of Sound in Silk: Linking Material Performance to Biological Function. Adv. Mater. 26:5179-5183.

Whilst renowned for exceptional mechanical properties, [ 1 ] little is known about the sonic properties of silk. This is surprising given its widespread use by the spider for remote sensing and communication, as well as current industrial research efforts in the production of multifunctional materials. [ 2,3 ] To address this gap in our knowledge and provide further bioinspiration, this paper presents a systematic study confirming the physical basis of spider silk’s sonic properties through a unique combination of laser vibrometry and high-rate ballistic impact. We report that modification of silk’s modulus allows the spider to finely control the sonic properties: achieved either actively by spider spinning behavior or passively in response to the environment. Interpreting our results in the context of whole webs, we propose silk fi bers are “tuned” to a resonant frequency that can be accessed through spider “plucking” behavior, which enables them to locate both prey and structural damage. Through comparison to cocoon silk and other industrial fibers, we find that spider dragline silk has the largest wavespeed range of any known material, making it an ideal model for fabrication of adjustable, green multifunctional materials.   Mortimer B, Gordon SD, Holland C, Siviour CR, Vollrath F, Windmill JFC. 2014. The Speed of Sound in Silk: Linking Material Performance to Biological Function. Adv. Mater....
Uetz GW, Roberts JA, Clark DL, Gibson JS, Gordon SD.  2013.  Active space of multimodal signals of wolf spiders in a complex litter environment.  Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 67:1471-1482

Uetz GW, Roberts JA, Clark DL, Gibson JS, Gordon SD. 2013. Active space of multimodal signals of wolf spiders in a complex litter environment. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 67:1471-1482

Abstract Multimodal signals may compensate for environmental constraints on communication, as signals in different modalities vary in efficacy. We examined the influence of complex microhabitats on transmission of vibratory and visual signals of courting male Schizocosa ocreata wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) with laser Doppler vibrometry (LDV) and behavioral observations in lab and field. We measured maximum potential detection distance of visual and vibratory signals by females in laboratory mesocosms, recorded vibration signal attenuation on different substrates, and estimated transmission distances for male vibration signals in the field. We also determined effective line-of sight visual detection distances in the field with laser distance measures. Together, these data were used to estimate the potential and effective active space of multimodal signals. LDV measures show leaves are highly conductive substrates for wolf spider vibratory signals compared to others (soil, wood, rock). For both visual and vibratory modes, lab estimates of maximum potential distance for signal transmission and detection (behavior studies) exceeded estimates of effective active space (signal attenuation, “vanishing point,” and “line-of-sight” measures). Field estimates of transmission distance for signal modes overlap, such that in close range (<20 cm), vibratory signals are more likely to be detected, while farther away, visual signals are more likely to be seen. These findings thus support current  hypotheses regarding how multimodal communication might extend the range of overall signal active space or compensate for environmental constraints. Uetz GW, Roberts JA, Clark DL, Gibson JS, Gordon SD.  2013.  Active space of multimodal signals of wolf spiders in a complex litter environment.  Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 67:1471-1482...
Gordon SD, Uetz GW.  2012.  Environmental interference: impact of acoustic noise on seismic communication and mating success.  Behavioral Ecology. 23:700-714.

Gordon SD, Uetz GW. 2012. Environmental interference: impact of acoustic noise on seismic communication and mating success. Behavioral Ecology. 23:700-714.

Sound is abundant in the environment, often creating ‘‘noise’’ that interferes with animal communication. Animals cope with acoustic interference in a variety of ways, including raising their signal volume (the Lombard effect), changing the pattern, frequency or duration of signals, or changing the time of day when signaling. Although many arthropods use substrate-borne vibration (seismic) signals, the effect of interference from (airborne) acoustic noise on their communication is not well studied. We tested the effects of 3 different types of airborne acoustic sounds on substrate-borne seismic communication and mating success of the ground-dwelling wolf spider, Schizocosa ocreata. We used band-limited white noise (0–4 kHz), predatory bird calls (northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis), and a cicada chorus (mixed Magicicada spp.) as interference stimuli. Spider behavior and mating success were differentially affected by each type of environmental acoustic sound. Males took longer to initiate courtship with bird calls, although white noise and cicada calls did not affect male signaling. Females oriented toward males more often with white noise but showed no change in their orientation behavior with bird or cicada calls. Finally, female receptivity and mating success were reduced with white noise and bird calls, whereas cicada calls had no effect. Our data suggest that wolf spiders using seismic vibration in communication respond differently to various types of airborne sounds, transmitted as vibrations, in their environment. This work is among the first to highlight how airborne sounds create seismic interference differentially affecting the behaviors of arthropods living in the leaf litter. Key words: behavioral plasticity, bioacoustics, bird song, cicada, communication, environment, interference, Schizocosa ocreata, sound, vibration, wolf spider. [Behav Ecol]   Gordon...
Gordon SD, Uetz GW.  2011.  Multimodal communication of wolf spiders on different substrates:  evidence for behavioral flexibility.  Animal Behaviour.  81:367-375.

Gordon SD, Uetz GW. 2011. Multimodal communication of wolf spiders on different substrates: evidence for behavioral flexibility. Animal Behaviour. 81:367-375.

Communication in complex environments poses challenges of potential loss of intended messages, but some animals may compensate by using multimodal signalling. Courtship displays of male Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz) wolf spiders are multimodal, consisting of visual and seismic signals. The microhabitat of S. ocreata is complex, including leaf litter, wood/bark, soil and rocks. Results from laser vibrometer measurements in the present study indicated that leaf litter transmitted male courtship signals with greater efficacy. Mating success was significantly greater on leaf litter (∼85%) compared to other substrates (∼30%), even though latency to male courtship did not vary among substrates. Given these results, selection should favour spiders that increase their mating potential on nonconducting substrates. We tested whether spiders detect substrate differences in a choice test, and found that when males and females visited all substrates, they spent significantly more time on leaf litter. We isolated courting male spiders on each substrate and scored courtship behaviours to see whether signals varied with substrate. Males used significantly more visual signals (waves and arches) on substrates that attenuated seismic signals (soil and rocks), but other behaviours showed no differences. Taken together, these results suggest that combined visual/seismic components of multimodal displays may serve as ‘backup signals’, ensuring reception under different environmental conditions. Results also suggest that male S. ocreata have the flexibility to compensate for environmental constraints by seeking microhabitats with more effective vibration conduction properties, and/or by increasing visual signals on substrates where seismic communication is less effective. Gordon SD, Uetz GW.  2011.  Multimodal communication of wolf spiders on different substrates:  evidence for behavioral flexibility.  Animal Behaviour. ...
Gordon SD, Strand MR.  2009.  The polyembryonic wasp Copidosoma floridanum produces two castes by differentially parceling the germ line to daughter embryos during embryo proliferation.  Development, Genes, Evolution.  219:445-454.

Gordon SD, Strand MR. 2009. The polyembryonic wasp Copidosoma floridanum produces two castes by differentially parceling the germ line to daughter embryos during embryo proliferation. Development, Genes, Evolution. 219:445-454.

Abstract Eggs of the polyembryonic wasp Copidosoma floridanum undergo a clonal phase of proliferation, which results in the formation of thousands of embryos called secondary morulae and two castes called reproductive and soldier larvae. C. floridanum establishes the germ line early in development, and prior studies indicate that embryos with primordial germ cells (PGCs) develop into reproductive larvae while embryos without PGCs develop into soldiers. However, it is unclear how embryos lacking PGCs form and whether all or only some morulae contribute to the proliferation process. Here, we report that most embryos lacking PGCs form by division of a secondary morula into one daughter embryo that inherits the germ line and another that does not. C. floridanum embryos also incorporate 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU), which allows PGCs and other cell types to be labeled during the S phase of the cell cycle. Continuous BrdU labeling indicated that all secondary morulae cycle during the proliferation phase of embryogenesis. Double labeling with BrdU and the mitosis marker anti-phospho-histone H3 indicated that the median length of the G2 phase of the cell cycle was 18 h with a minimum duration of 4 h. Mitosis of PGCs and presumptive somatic stem cells in secondary morulae was asynchronous, but cells of the inner membrane exhibited synchronous mitosis. Overall, our results suggest that all secondary morulae contribute to the formation of new embryos during the proliferation phase of embryogenesis and that PGCs are involved in regulating both proliferation and caste formation. Gordon SD, Strand MR.  2009.  The polyembryonic wasp Copidosoma floridanum produces two castes by differentially parceling the germ line to daughter embryos during embryo proliferation.  Development,...
Lohrey AK, Clark DL, Gordon SD, Uetz GW.  2009.  Anti-predator responses of wolf spiders (Araneae:  Lycosidae) to sensory cues representing an avian predator.  Animal Behaviour.  77:813-821.

Lohrey AK, Clark DL, Gordon SD, Uetz GW. 2009. Anti-predator responses of wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) to sensory cues representing an avian predator. Animal Behaviour. 77:813-821.

Predator detection and subsequent antipredator response behaviours have been documented in many vertebrate and invertebrate animals, although the degree of specificity in predator recognition and response varies. We examined responses of actively courting adult male Schizocosa ocreata (Hentz) wolf spiders to cues indicating the presence of an avian predator, including visual, seismic (substrate vibration) and acoustic (airborne) stimuli. Spiders responded to acoustic (bird call) and seismic (simulated beak tap) stimuli with cessation of courtship and movement, but increased locomotion when presented with a visual stimulus (bird shadow). Spiders responded to experimental playback of avian acoustic stimuli with antipredator behaviour significantly more often and took longer to return to courtship than when exposed to nonthreatening stimuli. Tests of responses on different substrata to isolate sensory modes revealed that spiders perceive airborne sound from bird calls as substratum-conducted vibration. Results indicate that S. ocreata are capable of recognizing sensory cues associated with avian predators and distinguishing them from nonthreatening stimuli, suggesting that bird predation has been a selection factor in shaping behaviour of this wolf spider species. Lohrey AK, Clark DL, Gordon SD, Uetz GW.  2009.  Anti-predator responses of wolf spiders (Araneae:  Lycosidae) to sensory cues representing an avian predator.  Animal Behaviour. ...