Invited speakers

We would like to promote the study of genetics and evolution using arachnid models at this congress. Therefore, we are pleased to announce plenary talks of the following colleagues.

Professor Wim Damen

Faculty of Biology and Pharmacy, Jena University, Jena, Germany

“We try to understand the genetic basis of evolution and biodiversity. Our main model organism is the common house spider Parasteatoda tepidariorum. We focus on questions central to the evolution of segmentation, as well as the role of Hox-genes and the Wnt-signalling pathway in the development of the spider. The comparative study of gene networks controlling development will provide insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying morphological diversity. We are members of the SpiderWeb consortium that has established a reference transcriptome for Parasteatoda and has sequenced the Parasteatoda's genome (at Baylors within i5k project).”

Learn more about work of Wim Damen at

Professor Gabriele Uhl

Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany

My research focuses on reproductive biology of spiders from anatomy to mating strategies.

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Jordi Moya Laraño

Experimental Station of Arid Zones, CSIC, Almería, Spain

"I am interested in the role that generalist predators play in ecosystems both from an ecological as well as an evolutionary point of view. We conduct field experiments to test how trait genetic variability and presence/absence of large soil predators (spiders and/or centipedes) play in soil food webs and an associated ecosystem process: leaf-litter decomposition. We cross these treatments with water availability, mimicking future climate change scenarios of reduced precipitation. I am also trying to contribute to the ongoing link between ecology and evolution. In collaboration with computer scientists, we have implemented an Individual-Based Model platform, Weaver, which aims at understanding eco-evolutionary dynamics in complex food webs across space."

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Assistant Professor Jonathan Pruitt

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

“My research explores the evolutionary origins and ecological consequences of individual variation. In particular, I explore how temporally consistent individual differences in behaviour (aka ‘animal personality’) influence the roles that individuals play within societies. I also test how groups’ compositions influence their collective behaviour and success. I use a variety of social spiders (Anelosimus, Stegodyphus) as models for my investigations.”

Learn more about work of Jonathan Pruitt at