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Abstract

Aquatic environments are an unusual habitat for most arthropods. Nevertheless, many arthropod species that were once terrestrial dwelling have transitioned back to marine and freshwater environments, either as semiaquatic or, more rarely, as fully aquatic inhabitants. Transition to water from land is exceptional, and without respiratory modifications to allow for extended submergence and the associated hypoxic conditions, survival is limited. In this article, we review marine-associated species that have made this rare transition in a generally terrestrial group, spiders. We include several freshwater spider species for comparative purposes. Marine-associated spiders comprise less than 0.3% of spider species worldwide but are found in over 14% of all spider families. As we discuss, these spiders live in environments that, with tidal action, hydraulic forces, and saltwater, are more extreme than freshwater habitats, often requiring physiological and behavioral adaptations to survive. Spiders employ many methods to survive inundation from encroaching tides, such as air bubble respiration, airtight nests, hypoxic comas, and fleeing incoming tides. While airway protection is the primary survival strategy, further survival adaptations include saltwater-induced osmotic regulation, dietary composition, predator avoidance, reproduction, locomotory responses, and adaptation to extreme temperatures and hydrostatic pressures that challenge existence in marine environments.

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2024-01-29
2024-06-23
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