Banded garden spiders (Argiope trifasciata) were collected at the Ballona Wetlands, a metal contaminated salt marsh. The relationship between spider body size and individual metal loads was investigated. Biochemical markers were identified in spider fecal material and found to correlate to body metal levels. Body metal dry weight concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu, Zn and total metals in female A. trifasciata exhibited distinct patterns of spatial and annual variation during 2006 and 2007. Spider body size was homogeneous across sites in both years, while increased Cd and Cr concentrations were sometimes associated with a reduction in spider size, though the influence of Cr was quite minor. Spiders with higher body Cu levels showed a reduction in peak area for hypoxanthine and an un-identified component in fecal material chromatograms. Spatial and annual differences in metal bioaccumulation are likely mediated by variation in site-specific environmental parameters and rainfall, while the negative relationships between body size and metal levels are presumably a consequence of a spider's expenditure of energy for metal tolerance mechanisms vs. foraging and growth. Finally, correlating body metal levels with excreta products constitutes a novel method to non-invasively predict metal levels in spiders.
Ramirez, Martin G., et al. “Relationships between Physiological Characteristics and Trace Metal Body Burdens of Banded Garden Spiders Argiope Trifasciata (Araneae, Araneidae).” Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, vol. 74, no. 4, Jan. 2011, pp. 1081–1088.