Cave spiders choose optimal environmental factors with respect to the generated entropy when laying their cocoon
The choice of a suitable area to spiders where to lay eggs is promoted in terms of Darwinian fitness. Despite its importance, the underlying factors behind this key decision are generally poorly understood. Here, we designed a multidisciplinary study based both on in-field data and laboratory experiments focusing on the European cave spider Meta menardi (Araneae, Tetragnathidae) and aiming at understanding the selective forces driving the female in the choice of the depositional area. Our in-field data analysis demonstrated a major role of air velocity and distance from the cave entrance within a particular cave in driving the female choice. This has been interpreted using a model based on the Entropy Generation Minimization - EGM - method, without invoking best fit parameters and thanks to independent lab experiments, thus demonstrating that the female chooses the depositional area according to minimal level of thermo-fluid-dynamic irreversibility. This methodology may pave the way to a novel approach in understanding evolutionary strategies for other living organisms.