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 Behavioural Ecology Research Group
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Simon Fraser University
 Burnaby, B.C.
 Canada V5A 1S6

 Phone:  604 291-4512


 PhD candidate, Simon Fraser University
 MSc, Swiss Tropical Institute
 BSc, Universities of Geneva & Glasgow


  My research explores the evolutionary significance of microhabitat settlement behaviours in web-building spiders. Specifically, I focus on the behaviour of the western black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus (Araneae: Theridiidae), a species that is native to western North America.

  In coastal British Columbia, where this study takes place, L. hesperus naturally co-occurs with two species of European house spiders: the giant house spider, Tegenaria duellica and the hobo spider, Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Both Tegenaria species were introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, rapidly spread and have now become invasive. It is yet unclear how all three species interact where they are sympatric.

  For my dissertation, I am investigating the dynamics of cohabitation among and between native western black widow spiders and introduced European house spiders. These spiders exhibit communal behaviours where they co-occur despite their strongly territorial nature. This raises the question of why and how do these spiders partition common resources. My approach to answering this question is both theoretical and empirical: it involves the use of manipulative and observational studies in the lab or in the field to test theoretical predictions about the influence of cohabitation on microhabitat settlement decisions. I use evolutionary game theory to model interactions between individuals and derive theoretical predictions about the dynamics of cohabitation. My field research takes place on southeastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands, where I follow natural spider populations in Garry oak meadows and coastal beach habitats.

  Recent publication:

 Salomon, M. 2007. Western black widow spiders express state-dependent web-building strategies tailored to the presence of neighbours. Animal Behaviour, 73, 865-875.  -pdf-


 - Robb Bennett, Spider Taxonomist and Systematicist, B.C. Ministry of Forests

 - Samantha Vibert, Ethologist Studying Spider Communication, Simon Fraser University

 - Alton Harestad, Wildlife and Conservation Biologist, Simon Fraser University


 - Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team
 - American Arachnology Society
 - Animal Behavior Society
 - Tree of Life Project
 - World Spider Catalog