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Artificial lighting triggers the presence of urban spiders and their webs on historical buildings

Author:
Mammola, Stefano, Isaia, Marco, Demonte, Daniele, Triolo, Paolo, Nervo, Marco
Source:
Landscape and urban planning 2018 v.180 pp. 187-194
ISSN:
0169-2046
Subject:
Dictynidae, aesthetics, air pollution, buildings, cleaning, color, digital images, environmental factors, furniture, halogens, historic sites, image analysis, incandescent lamps, regression analysis, rivers, seasonal variation, summer, temperature, urban areas, webs, Europe
Abstract:
Different spider species living in the urban environment spin their webs on building facades. Due to air pollution, web aggregations entrap dirt particles over time, assuming a brownish-greyish colouration and thus determining an aesthetic impact on buildings and street furniture. In Europe, the most common species causing such an aesthetic nuisance is Brigittea civica (Lucas) (Dictynidae). In spite of the socio-economical relevance of the problem, the ecological factors driving the proliferation of this species in the urban environment are poorly described and the effectiveness of potential cleaning activities has never been discussed in scientific literature. Over one year, we studied the environmental drivers of B. civica webs in the arcades of the historical down-town district of Turin (NW-Italy). We selected a number of sampling plots on arcade ceilings and we estimated the density of B. civica webs by means of digital image analysis. In parallel, we collected information on a number of potential explanatory variables driving the arcade colonization, namely artificial lighting at night, substrate temperature, distance from the main artificial light sources and distance from the river. Regression analysis showed that the coverage of spider webs increased significantly at plots with higher light intensity, with a major effect related to the presence of historical lampposts with incandescent lamps rather than halogen lamps. We also detected a seasonal variation in the web coverage, with significant higher values in summer. Stemming from our results, we are able to suggest good practices for the containment of this phenomenon.
Agid:
6144367