In my PhD project I am looking into which ecological factors might have facilitated independent evolution of social behavior across several spider taxa, and why only around the tropics?
Project description: All the social spider species are distributed around the tropics. Beyond the adventures of field work in those areas, I tap the evolution of sociality in spiders by looking into which environmental factors might have facilitated evolution of this kind of behavior. For that purpose I employ species distribution modelling on a global scale. My additional research interest in this project is how other ecological factors, mainly food availability, support the group-living lifestyle of spiders. Therefore I do field studies on prey of social spiders, with the main aim to quantify the dietary niche of permanently social spiders and their subsocial congeners in the eresid spiders of the genus Stegodyphus.