The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Jumping Spider Behavior

By: Seher Abbasi


Arthropods and their relatives are able to process information from a variety of sources, which is an indication of neural complexity. Thus this project will document a variety of behaviors and how they may change through alterations of circadian rhythms in jumping spiders. Jumping spiders are documented to have complex behaviors and brains, however they have not been extensively used in neuroscience studies, thus one can predict that they will be more useful than other anthropoids in conducting sleep and light studies. Due to the lack of sleep amongst teenagers and middle aged people, it is vital to learn more about the effect sleep deprivation has on the brain and behavior. Thus jumping spiders were used as model organisms to test the effect different day or night cycles would influence behaviors such as predatory characteristics. These studies will then be used as an educational opportunity for people to learn more about the brain and how it is connected to sleep. 


Jumping Spiders makeup to thirteen percent of the spider species and are interesting because they have excellent vision, unique ways of mating, astonishing predatory skills, different modes of living and dietary preferences, and a versatile physiognomy (outward appearance of an animal) (Hollis et al. 1964).

Jumping spiders are incredible predators. Due to their complex brain, their memory and planning skills aid them in hunting prey. Jumping Spiders have the ability to remember where exactly their prey is and can navigate a path to catch it (Bartos, 2008). Another unique characteristic of the jumping spider would be its vision (Heinze, 2014).Jumping spiders have a total of 6 eyes, 4 of which help with analyzing the surroundings, especially useful for mating rituals (Heinze, 2014). They possess excellent color vision (can see red, blue, and green), specific depth perceptions, and a spatial resolution down to 0.04 degrees making them the arthropod with the sharpest vision, even surpassing certain vertebrates(Heinze, 2014).

An unresolved topic in jumping spider behavior is whether they have regular day or night sleep cycles, as might be expected for a diurnal predator. Research into this aspect of behavior can help determine whether the complexity of jumping spider behavior will be influenced by sleep deprivation, which appears to have a profound impact on many vertebrate species, including humans (Colten, 2006). If jumping spider behavior can be changed due to alterations of sleep cycles, this group of organisms could prove to be a useful model organism in studies of neuroscience.

Specific Aims

This experiment aims to use species with complex behaviors and nervous systems to test how their brains respond to stimulus when exposed to different circadian rhythm patterns. Jumping spiders will help determine the effect sleep deprivation and different day or night cycles has on behavior. By conducting the following experiments, jumping spiders may be determined as neurobiological species thus serving as an educational resource for people to learn more about the brain in general.

Significance and Innovation 

Sleep is a relatively understudied field, however, it is becoming an increasing problem amongst teenagers and middle-aged working men and women (Colten, 2006). It is crucial to conduct a study on the effects of sleep deprivation on behavior and in order to do so jumping spiders are vital. Through this experiment not only will one learn about jumping spiders and the effect sleep deprivation has on them but they may also be classified as organisms to be used for future neurobiological experiments. Second, this experiment will help people learn more about the brain. By presenting and teaching people about this experiment through demonstrations and data analysis most people may be opened up to a new field of science they could further explore.

Approach and Data Analysis

This experiment was divided into 2 parts. The first part tested whether or not spiders have circadian rhythms and the second tested the effect circadian rhythms have on behavior (specifically predatory characteristics).

Classifying Jumping spider circadian rhythms

To do so spiders were videotaped and analyzed. Day or night cycles were tested by comparing the times of day when spiders move the most. To test day and night cycles, a petri dish with the spider in it was put on top of a grid paper. Once the video was taken with the spider moving around, the video was analyzed by looking at the amount of grids the spider moved through at different times of day. In order for a period of time to be considered a circadian rhythm the spider had to move no farther than 3 grids within the span of 1 hour. The control for this part of the experiment was the spider under normal sleep cycles with no artificial light in the room. To sleep deprive spiders, artificial light was kept on in the room.  

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Predatory Behaviors 

To test predatory characteristics 2 sleep deprived spiders of the same or different species were put in a container and the interactions between one another was observed (they were videotaped and analyzed). During data analysis we checked to see if the spider threatened prey (by putting front legs up) and analyzed their surroundings before attacking prey (cryptic stalking and circling around the prey). The control for this experiment was putting 2 spiders (under normal sleep cycles) together to test interactions. 

Data and Conclusion

Spiders typically followed the sun cycles when it came to their circadian rhythms. Whenever the sun set, spiders would go into their slings (nests) and stay still. However during the day, when the sun was out, spiders were active and moving around. When artificial light was present throughout the night time, spiders would have a harder time staying still in their slings and would move around for a longer amount of time.  

Spiders under normal sleep cycles took a longer time to attack and eat neighboring spiders. They would start off by analyzing their surroundings to ensure safety, next plan the necessary steps to threaten and weaken prey, and finally jump and attack. However with the sleep deprived spiders, spiders would attack one another within the first 5 seconds of interaction. There was much more wrestling and aggressive fighting with sleep deprived spiders. This may indicate that when spiders are sleep deprived they tend to be less logical and more aggressive. 

Spiders are known to have complex behaviors and brains, however once sleep deprived their behavioral patterns are blurred indicating the effects of sleep deprivation on spiders. Because sleep deprivation affects their ability to think logically it helps prove how sleep deprivation is having a negative impact on organisms. This study can be linked to humans as well. We tend to be more irritated and faulty when sleep deprived, this is similar to the ways spiders behave. Thus concluding that jumping spiders indeed have complex brains and should be identified as neurological species. 

Here is an example of one of the multiple trails we conducted where 2 spiders that weren’t sleep deprived were placed in the same container. It is clear that the spider on the right, slowly and meticulously spent time threatening and backing away from the other spider. They were both communicating and threatening (one of them lifted their legs up which is a form of threat) one another and ended up staying away from each other. The interaction was also much longer.

However when 2 sleep deprived spiders were put together, they immediately fought one another and didn’t consider the consequences. There was no form of threat or communication, instead they would fight and attack one another within the first couple seconds of being put together.  


  • Aguilar-Argüello, Samuel O., and Juan H. García-Chávez. “Importance of Hunger and Prey Type on Predatory Behavior Stages in Corythalia Albicincta (Araneae: Salticidae).” The Journal of Arachnology, American Arachnological Society,
  • Baker, Liv, et al. “The Effect of Visual Features on Jumping Spider Movements across Gaps.” ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst,
  • Bartos, Maciej. “Hunting Prey With Different Escape Potentials-Alternative Predatory Tactics In A Dune Dwelling Salticid.” The Journal of Arachnology, American Arachnological Society,
  • Colten, Harvey R. “Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders.” Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970,
  • “Evidence of Circadian Rhythm in Antipredator Behaviour in the Orb-Weaving Spider Larinioides Cornutus.” Animal Behaviour, Academic Press, 20 July 2011,
  • Heinze, Stanley. “Neurobiology: Jumping Spiders Getting On Board.” Current Biology, Cell Press, 3 Nov. 2014,
  • “Male Spiders Risk Death By Courting the Wrong Females.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 2 Apr. 2018,
  • McGinley, Rowan H., et al. “Whole‐Organism Performance in a Jumping Spider, Servaea Incana (Araneae: Salticidae): Links with Morphology and between Performance Traits.” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 24 Sept. 2013,
  • Meehan, Christopher  J. “Herbivory in a Spider through Exploitation of an Ant–Plant Mutualism.” Current Biology, Cell Press, 12 Oct. 2009,
  • Nguyen, Dieu My T, et al. “Grasshopper DCMD: An Undergraduate Electrophysiology Lab for Investigating Single-Unit Responses to Behaviorally-Relevant Stimuli.” Backyard Brains, 2017,
  • Shamble, Paul S, et al. “Airborne Acoustic Perception by a Jumping Spider.” Current Biology : CB, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Nov. 2016,
  • Sweeney, et al. “Predator and Prey Activity Levels Jointly Influence the Outcome of Long-Term Foraging Bouts.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 17 June 2013,
  • T.E. Moore, S.E. Crary, D.E. Koditschek, and T.A. Conklin, “Directed Locomotion in Cockroaches: ‘Biobots’,” Acta Entomologica Slovenica, vol.6, no.2, 71-78 December 1998
  • Vickers, Michael E., et al. “Scavenging throughout the Life Cycle of the Jumping Spider, Phidippus Audax (Hentz) (Araneae: Salticidae).” The Journal of Arachnology, American Arachnological Society,

Seher Abbasi
Princeton High School

%d bloggers like this: