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Guide Index

Spin, Spin, Spin

Song and Dance

Spider Canyon

Amazon Tales

Arachnophobia

Viewer Challenge
in the classroom
TEACHING GUIDES


Spiders!:
Song and Dance


Meet a jumping spider named after the character Portia in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, for her habit of deceiving her enemies. Another jumping spider demonstrates an affinity for watching TV, much to the surprise of arachnologists studying her behavior. Scientist Dave Clark suspects he could be seeing the first stage of an evolving spider species.

Curriculum Links
National Science Education Standards
Related Frontiers Shows and Activities
Activity: Spiders Around You
Extensions
Face of a Jumping Spider




CURRICULUM LINKS


BIOLOGY/
LIFE SCIENCE


arachnids, diversity, evolution, invertebrates

CHEMISTRY


spider silk

GENETICS


 

PHYSICAL
SCIENCE


vibrations

TECHNOLOGY


 




NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

SCIENCE AS INQUIRY / LIFE SCIENCE
5-8: Structure and Function in Living Systems, Reproduction and Heredity, Regulation and Behavior, Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms
9-12: Molecular Basis of Heredity, Biological Evolution, Behavior of Organisms
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
5-8, 9-12: Abilities of Technological Design, Understanding About Science and Technology
SCIENCE IN PERSONAL AND SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES
5-8: Science and Technology in Society
9-12: Science and Technology in Local, National and Global Challenges
HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
5-8, 9-12: Science as a Human Endeavor




RELATED FRONTIERS SHOWS AND ACTIVITIES



ACTIVITY 1: SPIDERS AROUND YOU

Spiders seem to be everywhere! Even when we don't see the small arachnids, we see their telltale webs woven in corners and crevices inside and draped from branches and bushes outside. Spiders are abundant. More than 1 million spiders might be found in a one-acre grassy field. They are found just about anywhere, from your house and garden to the 22,000-foot level on Mount Everest. Scientists estimate that the 39,000 known species represent only a fraction of the spider species on Earth.

In this story, we meet jumping spiders, members of the Salticidae family. The first is Portia fimbriata. The Portia genus contains about 15 jumping spider species and is named for the deceitful ploys it uses in hunting and catching its prey. The second spider in this story is Maevia inclemens.

Jumping spiders are hunters that stalk their prey and pounce from a distance. Many jumping spiders can be distinguished by two large headlamp-like eyes on the front of their faces and six smaller eyes, arranged on either side of the two big eyes and on top of their heads. Their eight eyes give them excellent vision, unlike web-weaving spiders.

What spider species live near you? In this activity, you will research the types and population density of spiders that live around you.


MATERIALS
  • research materials, such as field guides or other books about spiders
  • magnifying glass
  • graph paper
  • pencil
PART 1: BACKGROUND RESEARCH

Research spiders that live in your area. Learn to recognize the different species and their webs. Start with a local nature center, county extension office, garden club, biology department at a college, even a zoo, if you live near one. Audubon, Peterson's and Golden Press publish field guides that identify species and their habitats.

PART 2: SPIDER HUNT

  1. Select an area where spiders live.

  2. Calculate the total area in which you will conduct your search.

  3. Create a scale representation of your search area on graph paper.

  4. Create symbols for each type of spider and spider web that can be found in the area.

  5. Using a field guide and magnifying glass, search for evidence of spider life. Document evidence of each species and where it is found on your area map. Differentiate between species when possible.

PART 3: ANALYZE YOUR DATA

  1. Population density refers to the number of individuals in an area. Determine the population density by using the following equation:

    For example, 10 orb spiders live in a barn 100 square meters. Population density equals 10 spiders divided by 100m2, or 0.1 spiders/square meter.


  2. Place your results in a data table similar to the one below:
    Population Name Number
    of Organisms
    Population
    Density
         


QUESTIONS
  1. Place all of the spider species within a food web. What do you think would happen if you removed one component of the web?

  2. Environmental conditions that keep a population from increasing in size and affect the balance of an ecosystem are called limiting factors. What limiting factors might affect spiders where you live?


EXTENSIONS

  1. Find out what roles spiders play in the ecosystem. Why are most spiders considered beneficial to people?

  2. For more about jumping spiders, see these websites:
  3. Search the Web to find out more about the spiders that live in your state or in the U.S. Use your findings to create a spider map showing the different species that flourish in the areas you studied.


FACE OF A JUMPING SPIDER

With eight eyes, jumping spiders have excellent eyesight -- among the best in invertebrate animals. Many species can recognize prey or other spiders 49 to 89 away. They can also change the color of their eyes.





 

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