Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 517-530.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020301

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Advances in spider ballooning research

Pengfeng Wu1, Shuyan Cui1, Abid Ali1,2, Guo Zheng1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Life Science, Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang 110034, China
    2 Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan
  • Received:2020-07-27 Accepted:2020-11-05 Online:2021-04-20 Published:2021-04-20
  • Contact: Guo Zheng
  • About author:* E-mail:


Backgrounds: Population dispersal is important for avoiding resource competition and cannibalism in the same habitat, and for ensuring gene flow which has an evolutionary and ecological importance. Some wingless arthropods can achieve long-distance dispersal using their filaments (which is called ballooning). Spiders are important for terrestrial ecosystems and can play a significant role in pest control due to being carnivores. Ballooning is one of the most important dispersal modes for spiders and is believed to be important for speciation, niche differentiation and pest control. Yet, focus on the role ballooning plays for dispersal has been given less attention.

Progresses: In this study, we review the research history of spider ballooning (which can be categorized into three periods) and summarize the progress that had been made which includes: the dominant groups and characteristics of ballooning spiders, understanding the three stages of ballooning (take-off, flight, and setting) and influencing factors, two prevalent theories explaining the mechanism of ballooning with four related models, and information on the collection of spiders as well as other research methods.

Prospects: In order to exclusively understand the significance of ballooning for population dispersal, research emphases are being put forward to strengthen the identification of ballooning spiders, better understanding the relationship between ballooning data with environmental factors, and to explore the whole process of spider ballooning (e.g., take-off, flight, and setting). We hope this study will serve as an important reference for knowledge popularization, resource protection and utilization of ballooning.

Key words: arthropod, dispersal, habitat, aerodynamic convection, atmospheric potential gradient