Department of Biological Science
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
PhD Cant, MSc Central China Agric. Univ., BSc Hubei
Behavioual Ecology, Arachnology, Biodiversity and Biomaterials-Spider Silk.
General research interests of our lab lie in the fields of ecology, behaviour and evolution of animals, mostly in terrestrial invertebrates. Specifically the lab is interested in how animals that have small brain with few neurons solve the everyday problems that they face within their respec-tive environments. Our research focuses on the area of behavioural ecology, and includes work on animal communication, including social and mating behaviour, predator-prey interactions, especially in aggressive mimicry; evolutionary significance of prey-specific prey-catching and prey-preference behaviour. The lab is also interested in biodiversity of arthropods in tropical rainforests. The lab works mainly with spiders, and work both in the field and the laboratory. Recently, we also include our work on linking spider silk proteins and spider web-spinning behaviour to animal forag-ing behaviour and ecology, and biomaterials.
We aim to understand the mechanisms by which animals, spiders in particular, communicate and to study the different kinds of communication systems that have evolved within and between species. Within species, our objective is to understand courtship, threat and other display behavour during interactions. Between different species, our objective is to understand predator-prey communication that includes aggressive mimicry (predator communicates deceitfully with prey) and anti-predator defences that involve prey communicating with prey. Predator-prey interaction We are interested in the following questions: how important has predator-prey co-evolution been in the evolution of behaviour? What kinds of behavioural specialisation have evolved in preda-tors? How is the apparent behavioural complexity of many aggressive mimic predator species to be accounted for?
We are interested in why spiders evolved to produce multiple types of silk proteins and which selective forces that affect the evolution of silk functional properties. Our goal is to investigate the physical and mechanical properties of spider silks, clone the spider silk genes and transfer the spider silk genes into silkworms. During the course of study, several spider silk proteins genes will be isolated and characterized and a silkworm silk protein gene promoter will also be isolated and characterized. The transgenic technique for the silkworm will be developed. Effects of transgenes on behaviours of GM animals We examine whether transgene affects foraging, sexual behaviour, reproduction and viability of transgenic zebrafish. We will also consider the potential to increase transgene frequency and to eliminate populations, especially when a sexual trait is affected by transgenes. Therefore, we can develop a new method for assessing the impact of transgenic organisms.
Biodiversity of tropical rainforest arthropods
To take several parallel approaches to studying the biodiversity patterns of arthropods and the underlying ecological processes which produce such patterns in the rainforests of Singapore. The three subprojects have the following general goals: 1) to quantify the relationship between arthro-pod diversity and plant (including fungal) diversity, the role of fungi and vascular epiphytes, and the changes in arthropod diversity with plant phenology; 2) to evaluate the usefulness of selected taxa as indicators of the quality of forest remnants; and 3) to determine the relationship between canopy arthropod fauna and other components of the forest arthropod fauna.
Painting, C.J., Rajamohan, G., Chen, Z.Q., Zeng, H., Lim, M.L.M. & Li, D. 2016. It takes to peaks to tango: the specific importance of UVB and UVA in sexual signaling. Animal Behaviour (in press)
Xu, X., Liu, F.X., Chen, J., Ono, H., Li, D. & Kuntner, M. 2016. Pre-Pleistocene geological events shaping diversification and distribution of primitively segmented spiders on East Asian Margins. Journal of Biogeography doi:10.1111/jbi.12687
Xu, X., Liu, F.X., Chen, J., Li, D. & Kuntner, M. 2015. Integrative taxonomy of the primitively segmented spider genus Ganthela (Araneae: Mesothelae: Liphistiidae) – DNA barcoding gap agrees with morphology. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 175: 288-306. doi: 10.1111/zoj.12280
Gan, W.J., Liu, S.J., Yang, X.D., Li, D. & Lei, C.L. 2015. Prey interception drives web invasion, and spider size determines successful web takeover in nocturnal orb-weaving spiders. Biology Open 4: 1326-1329. doi:10.1242/bio.012799.
Xu, X., Liu, F.X., Cheng, R-C., Chen, J., Xu, X., Zhang, Z.S., Ono, H., Pham, D.S., Norma-Rashid, Y., Arnedo, M.A., Kuntner, M. & Li, D. 2015. Extant primitively segmented spiders have recently diversified from an ancient lineage. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 282: 20142486. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2486.
Bulbert, M. W., O’Hanlon, J. O., Zappettini, S., Zhang, S. C. & Li, D. 2015. Sexually selected UV-signals in the tropical ornate jumping spider, Cosmophasis umbratica may incur costs from predation. Ecology & Evolution 5: 914-920. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1419.
Kuntner, M., Agnarsson, I. & Li, D. 2015. The eunuch phenomenon: adaptive evolution of genital emasculation in sexually dimorphic spiders. Biological Review 90: 278-296. doi: 10.1111/brv.12109
Jackson, R.R., Li, D., Woon, J.R.W., Hashim, R. & Cross, F.R. 2014. Intricate predatory decisions by a mosquito-specialist spider from Malaysia. Royal Society Open Science 1: 140131. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.140131
Hu, Z. Y., Xu, X., Chen, Z. Q., Li, H. Z., Wang, X. Y., Wu, L. B., Liu, F. X. Chen, Jian & Li, D. 2014. The spectral transmission of non-salticid spider corneas. Journal of Experimental Biology 217: 2698-2703. doi:10.1242/jeb.099069
Kuntner, K., Năpărus, M., Li, D. & Coddington, J.A. 2014. Phylogeny predicts future habitat shifts due to climate change. PLoS One 9(6): e98907. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098907
Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2013. UV-green iridescence indicates resource-holding potential during jumping spider contests. PLoS One 8(4): e59774. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059774.
Zhang, S.C., Koh, T.H., Seah, W.K., Lai, Y.H., Elgar, M.A. & Li, D. 2012. A novel property of spider silk: chemical defence against ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279: 1824-1830. Highlighted in Nature Research Highlights.
Hu, Z. Y., Liu, F. X., Xu, X., Chen, Z. Q., Chen, J. & Li, D. 2012. The spectral transmission of the principal-eye corneas of jumping spiders: implications for ultraviolet vision. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2853-2859.
Lee, Q. Q., Oh, J., Kralj-Fišer, S., Kuntner, M. & Li, D. 2012. Emasculation: gloves-off strategy enhances eunuch spider endurance. Biology Letters 8: 733-735. Highlighted in Nature Research Highlights.
Li, D., Oh, J., Kralj-Fišer, S. & Kuntner, M. 2012. Remote copulation: male counter-adaptation to female cannibalism. Biology Letters 8: 512-515. Highlighted in Science News of the Week.
Kuntner, M., Gregorič, M., Zhang, S.C., Kralj-Fišer, S. & Li, D. 2012. Mating plugs in polyandrous giants: which sex produces them, when, how and why? PLoS One 7(7): e40939. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040939.
Zou, Y., Araujo, D. P. D, Lim, M. L. M., & Li, D. 2012. Ultraviolet is a more important cue than reflection in other wavelengths for a jumping spider to locate its prey spiders. Animal Behaviour 82: 1457-1463.
Zhang, S. C., Kuntner, M. & Li, D. 2011. Mate binding: a male adaptation to sexual conflict in the golden orb-web spider (Nephilidae: Nephila pilipes). Animal Behaviour 82: 1299-1304.
Kralj-Fišer, S., Gregorič, M. Zhang, S. C., Kuntner, M. & Li, D. 2011. Eunuchs are better fighters. Animal Behaviour81: 933-939.
Huang, J-N., Chen, R-C., Li, D. & Tso, I-M. 2011. Salticid predation as one potential driving force of ant mimicry in jumping spiders. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. 278: 1356-1364.
Kuntner, M., Gregorič, M. & Li, D. 2010. Mass predicts web asymmetry in Nephila spiders. Naturwissenschaften 97: 1097-1105.
Tan, E. J., Seah, S. W.H., Yap, L-M, Y.L., Goh, P. M., Gan, W. J., Liu, F. X. & Li, D. 2010. Why do orb-weaving spiders (Cyclosa ginnaga) decorate their webs with silk spirals and plant detritus? Animal Behaviour 79: 179-186.
Tan, E. J. & Li, D. 2009. Detritus decorations of an orb-weaving spider, Cyclosa mulmeiensis (Thorell): for food or camouflage? Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 1832-1839.
Koh, T. H., Seah, W. K., Yap, L-M. Y.L. & Li, D. 2009. Pheromone-based female mate choice and its effect on reproductive investment in a spitting spider. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 63: 923-930.
Li, J. J., Zhang, Z. T., Liu, F. X., Liu, Q. Q., Chen, J., Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2008. UVB-based mate choice cues used by females of the jumping spider Phintella vittata. Current Biology 18: 699-703.
Lim, M. L. M., Li, J. J. & Li, D. 2008. Effect of UV-reflecting markings on female mate -choice decisions in Cosmophasis umbratica, a jumping spider from Singapore. Behavioral Ecology 19: 61-66.
Lim, M. L. M., Land, M. F. & Li, D. 2007. Sex-specific UV and fluorescence signals in jumping spiders. Science 315: 481.
Su, K. F. Y., Meier, R., Jackson, R. R., Harland, D. P. & Li, D. 2007. Convergent evolution of eye ultrastructure and divergent evolution of vision-mediated predatory behavior in jumping spiders. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 1478-1489.
Land, M. F., Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2007. Optics of the ultra-violet reflecting scales of a jumping spider. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274: 1583-1589.
Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2007. Effects of age and feeding history on structure-based ornaments of a jumping spider. 274: 569-575.
Du, N., Liu, X. Y., Narayanan, J., Li, L., Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2006. Design of superior spider silk: from nanostructure to mechanical properties. Biophysical Journal 91: 4528-4535.
Nelson, X. J., Jackson, R. R., Li, D. 2006. Honest signalling in a Batesian mimic: conditional anti-predator behaviour in jumping spiders. Behavioral Ecology 17: 575-580.
Lim, M. L. M. & Li, D. 2006. Behavioural evidence of ultraviolet sensitivity in jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). Journal of Comparative Physiology A 192: 871-878.
Li, D. & Lim, M. L. M. 2005. Ultraviolet cues affect the foraging behaviour of jumping spiders. Animal Behaviour 70: 771-776.
Li, D. 2005. Spiders that decorate webs at higher frequency intercept more prey and grow faster. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 272: 1753-1757.
Li, D. & Lee, W. S. (2004). Predator-induced plasticity in web-building behaviour. Animal Behaviour 67: 209-318.
Li, D. (2002). Hatching responses of subsocial spitting spiders to predation risk. Proceedings of Royal Society of London B 269: 2155-2161.
Seah, W. K. & Li, D. (2001). Stabilimenta attract unwelcome predators to orb-webs. Proceedings of Royal Society of London B 268:1553-1558.
Kitching, R. L., Li, D. & Stork, N. E. (2001). Assessing biodiversity ‘sampling packages’: how similar are arthropod assemblages in different tropical rainforests? Biodiversity and Conservation 10:793-813.