Tuning the instrument: sonic properties in the spider's web Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2016

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 10


  • 122


  • 13

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1742-5689

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1742-5662


  • Spider orb webs are multifunctional, acting to absorb prey impact energy and transmit vibratory information to the spider. This paper explores the links between silk material properties, propagation of vibrations within webs and the ability of the spider to control and balance web function. Combining experimental and modelling approaches, we contrast transverse and longitudinal wave propagation in the web. It emerged that both transverse and longitudinal wave amplitude in the web can be adjusted through changes in web tension and dragline silk stiffness, i.e. properties that can be controlled by the spider. In particular, we propose that dragline silk supercontraction may have evolved as a control mechanism for these multifunctional fibres.


  • Materials science and engineering


  • finite-element analysis; araneus diadematus; vibration; waves; supercontraction; ampullate silk fibers; nuctenea-sclopetaria araneidae; naturally compliant structures; orb-web; mechanical-properties; dragline silk; supercontraction; vibrations; behavior; prey