Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Thomas C. Jones

Committee Members

David S. Roane, Darrell J. Moore


Anelosimus studiosus is a socially polyphenic spider. Individuals can be classified as social/tolerant or solitary/aggressive. These behavioral differences are associated with considerable variation in social structure. Here, we begin to examine the physiological differences that may underlie the behavioral dimorphism in this species and possible implications for the evolution of sociality. Octopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been found to elevate aggression in invertebrates. Serotonin has been shown, in some cases, to interact antagonistically with octopamine. We used High Pressure Liquid Chromatography with Electrochemical Detection to quantify levels of these neurochemicals among adult females from social (multi-female) and solitary (single-female) webs in east Tennessee. A subset of spiders was scored for individual social tendency. We found that higher octopamine levels are associated with a greater degree of aggression and intolerance, both at the individual level and the population level, while higher levels of serotonin are found in multi-female colonies and social individuals.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.