Multivariate morphometrics and sexual dimorphism in the orb-web spider Metellina segmentata (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae, Metidae)

John Prenter*, W. Ian Montgomery, Robert W. Elwood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual dimorphism in body size and leg length was investigated in a common orb-weaving spider of Ireland and northern Europe, Metellina segmentata (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae, Metidae). Univariate and multivariate analyses of sexual dimorphism revealed that a greater proportion of between sex variation (sexual dimorphism) was attributable to variation in shape than in size. Significant differences were found in the scores for males and females for the first two principal components. PC1 (shape) accounted for 44.25% of the variation and PC2 (size) 13.01% of the variation. Although M. segmentata has been attributed with minimal sexual size dimorphism, females were markedly heavier, possibly a reflection of differential reproductive investment between the sexes, but males had markedly longer legs and broader prosoma. The results are discussed with regard to existing theories of natural and sexual selection, particularly those concerning sexual cannibalism and differential life history traits in males and females. Models that attempt to explain the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in spiders and of the web builders in particular, fail to account for the multivariate nature of dimorphism, especially with respect to shape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 1995


  • evolution
  • shape
  • size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Multivariate morphometrics and sexual dimorphism in the orb-web spider Metellina segmentata (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae, Metidae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this