Lisa Taylor researches the sexual selection, sensory exploitation and predator psychology of spiders, wasps and other colorful but understudied arthropod groups. Her lab, the Taylor Lab, works to understand the selection pressures that drive the evolution and maintenance of those colorful displays. She is an assistant research scientist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology UF/IFAS.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Media Appearances (6)
Inside the mind of a spider
UF IFAS Blogs online
For a creature that – legs and all – might be no larger than a pencil eraser, spiders continue to surprise researchers with their cognitive abilities.
Jumping spiders’ remarkable senses capture a world beyond our perception
Science News online
Imagine that the world is shades of gray and a little blurry, almost as if your lousy peripheral vision has taken over. This fuzzy field of view extends so far that you can make out dim shapes and motion behind you as well; no need to turn your head.
How Jumping Spiders Avoid Becoming A Tasty Snack
Science Friday online
Jumping spiders are crafty hunters, but sometimes they need their own disguise to avoid their own predators. Biologist Alexis Dodson studies Synemosyna formica, a species of jumping spider that avoids detection by mimicking ants.
Eyeliner On Spiders: It's For Science
WUFT NPR online
We learned this week that scientists in Florida are putting eyeliner on spiders. Why? Well, to understand, you need to know male jumping spiders are pretty flamboyant during mating rituals. They vibrate and dance. And they're pretty colorful too.
Inside the Lab Where Spiders Put on Face Paint and Fake Eyelashes (and Termites Wear Capes)
In a lab at the University of Florida, researchers are giving male jumping spiders a makeover. After knocking them unconscious for a few minutes with carbon dioxide, the scientists paint the bright-red faces of Habronattus pyrrithrix black with liquid eyeliner, or stick false eyelashes to the heads of Maevia inclemens with Elmer’s glue.
What does it take to understand spiders? False eyelashes, capes and face paint
UF News online
In an arena that looks like something straight out of Pokémon, two spiders square off. The male darts to the left, scuttles forward, then jumps backward, catching the interest of a female spider in the arena.
Extreme natural size variation in both sexes of a sexually cannibalistic mantidflyRoyal Society Open Publishing
Laurel B. Lietzenmayer, et. al
In sexually cannibalistic animals, the relative sizes of potential mates often predict the outcome of aggressive encounters. Mantidflies are spider egg predators as larvae and generalist predators as adults. Unlike most cannibalistic species, there is considerable individual variation in body size in both sexes. Using preserved collections of Dicromantispa sayi, we focused on three body size metrics that we found to be positively correlated and accurately measured across researchers.
Blood-red colour as a prey choice cue for mosquito specialist predators Author links open overlay panelAnimal Behaviour
Lisa A.Taylor, et. al
Specialist predators are innately and distinctively proficient at targeting specific prey types. This is enabled by behavioural, perceptual and cognitive mechanisms that can only be understood using carefully designed experiments. Evarcha culicivora is an East African jumping spider that feeds on vertebrate blood acquired indirectly by actively targeting blood-carrying female mosquitoes as preferred prey. Here we asked whether these spiders use the colour red to identify this prey.
Alternative responses by two species of jumping spiders to unpalatability and toxicity in preyThe Journal of Arachnology
Michael E. Vickers, et. al
A key challenge for generalist predators is avoiding toxins in prey. Species-specific strategies range from total avoidance of distasteful (and potentially toxic) prey to the use of physiological mechanisms to metabolize toxins after consumption. We compare two species of jumping spiders, Habronattus trimaculatus Bryant, 1945 and Phidippus regius CL Koch, 1846.
Lack of neophobic responses to color in a jumping spider that uses color cues when foraging (Habronattus pyrrithrix)Plos One
Michael E. Vickers, et. al
Chemically defended prey often advertise their toxins with bright and conspicuous colors. To understand why such colors are effective at reducing predation, we need to understand the psychology of key predators. In bird predators, there is evidence that individuals avoid novelty—including prey of novel colors (with which they have had no prior experience). Moreover, the effect of novelty is sometimes strongest for colors that are typically associated with aposematic prey (e.g., red, orange, yellow).