Linden HigginsDepartment of Biology, University of Vermont
Adjunct Assistant Research Professor
Associate Editor for Behavior, Journal of Arachnology
|Supported in part through grants from the National Science Foundation|
habitat generalists. We often think of each species
having its particular "place" in the natural world. But many
species survive and even thrive in diverse habitats – perhaps the best known habitat
generalist is Homo sapiens
Understanding of how organisms can survive in a variety of environments
is the study of small-scale adaptation to local conditions. I have spent most of my
professional career studying a
widely distributed large spider, and this web site shares some of
what I have learned.
Residents and visiters to the Gulf Coast of the United States may
recognize these spiders: they are the
largest orb weaver in the US. Nephila
is one of only two species in
the family Nephilidae native to the New World; the other - Nephila sexpunctata - is only found
in the forests on the border between Brazil and Argentinia (a third has
been introduced and is
common in coastal Brazil).
More about Nephila and the family Nephilidae, along with many fine photographs, can be found at Matjaz Kuntner's web site.
Integrating across fields in biology. Using tools from diverse disciplines in biology, I study how one species of web-building spider persists in very different habitats with little obvious morphological differentiation. By focusing on a single species, I have been able to integrate biological processes across the scales from the molecular to the community.
Large numbers of students have worked in my laboratory on projects associated with understanding these spiders. Click on the spiders below to learn more about Nephila and my research.
Note: I am currently updating this web site (May 2011) and some of these pages are old, others still in development.
building and prey capture
Nephila clavipes in
projects using Nephila
How to identify a great project and do your own science
to interesting web sites in science and science education