The Ecology of Mound-building Spiders

Maggie Roboin, a PhD candidate at UC, Berkeley, studied a newly discovered mason spider in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. These spiders are unique because they construct mounds over their nests, repeatedly collecting small pebbles, sticks, and leaves and binding them with silk. With her travel and basic expenses covered by RWF in 2016, she intensely observed and video recorded their activities in Bridger-Teton National Forest. She determined mounds benefit offspring by greatly reducing mortality but only for the first 10 days after they are constructed—the mounds are typically destroyed by rain. However, many spiders live on.