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NSFlogoThis research supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Student Research with Nephila clavipes

When I first started working with Nephila clavipes, nearly everything was done in the field or in "insectaries" - screen houses.  I could only afford to take a few students to the field.
Collecting Nephila in Mexico
Now that I have developed
inexpensive protocols for rearing these animals in the laboratory, many new opportunities for controlled experiments have arisen. Many of the research questions I investigate are appropriate for undergraduate involvement.

In 2006, my Mexican collaborators hosted two students  collecting Nephila from several populations.  These spiders are the ancestors of the animals reared in the laboratory in Vermont in 2007-2008.

 juveniles in the incubatorFeeding large numbers of spiders requires many hands, and at the height of each rearing, 8-10 students work in the lab. Each year one or two students seeking a more in-depth experience in science develop an independent research project.
juveniles in the Percival incubator
student feeding spiders
These independent projects are wide-ranging, reflecting the individual interests of the students and the material at hand.  Undergraduate projects have included testing for juvenile hormone sensitivity, molecular genetics of diverse Nephila species, and behavioral responses to variation in food availability.

Feeding spiders