The research on predatory arthropods (often referred to now as ‘the spider-malaria project’) is a long-term collaborative programme between icipe and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), which began in 1994 and has been based primarily at icipe’s Thomas Odhiambo Campus in Mbita.
This research programme pertains to examples of unusually intricate predatory specialization, with particular attention being given to behavior that is cognitive in character. Efforts are also being made to link basic research on predators to applied-science topics pertaining to human health. In this context, research on mosquito-specialist predators is a dominant theme, with a large portion of this research being focused on Evarcha culicivora, a spider which feeds indirectly on blood; it achieves this by expressing an active preference for blood-carrying mosquitoes and also targeting malaria vectors as its preferred mosquitoes.
Current research is especially concerned with investigating the expression of local adaptation by E. culicivora and related species from different sites in Western Kenya, which includes examples of innately different feeding strategies, predation rates and prey-choice behaviour.
Previous funding for the research on predatory arthropods has been received from:
- National Geographic Society
- The Royal Society of New Zealand (Marsden Fund)
- The New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology
- United States National Institutes of Health
- United States National Science Foundation
- The National Geographic Society
- April 2018 - March 2019