Dr. Jonas Wolff

Project Leader

Zoological Institute and Museum
General and Systematic Zoology

Loitzer Str. 26
Building 3.3, Room 0.52
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0)3834 420-4243

Research Interests

I am a Project Leader at the Zoological Institute and Museum of the University of Greifswald and a Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow at Macquary University in Sydney, Australia. My research can be best labelled as 'evolutionary biomechanics', i.e. I aim to clarify the evolutionary origins and effects of outstanding physical performance of biological materials, structures and organisms. This is crucial for the understanding of the biological roles of organisms (such as in predator prey interactions) and their change over time. Furthermore, my research helps to identify interesting model systems that can inform technological innovations in a process called 'biomimetics'. Besides, I am interested in the phylogenetics, systematics, biogeography and functional morphology of arachnids.  

I am currently working on the project “A window into key events of spider evolution: Tracking the phylogenetic history of a phenotypically dynamic clade of spiders - the Austral marronoids”, which is funded by the German Research Foundation.


Curriculum Vitae
Employment History
since 02/2021 Project Leader at the University of Greifswald, Germany. DFG-project A window into key events of spider evolution: Tracking the phylogenetic history of a phenotypically dynamic clade of spiders - the Austral marronoids
since 02/2021 Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney. PhD supervisor and collaborative research projects
01/2019 – 01/2021 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Australia. DECRA-project Building your future: builder-building coevolution in animal architectures
01/2016 – 12/2018 Macquarie University Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Australia. MQRF-project Tough stickers: How are thread anchors of spiders structurally optimized and ecologically adjusted?
08/2015 – 12/2015 PostDoc at the University of Kiel, Germany. Research on surface effects in biological materials. Lecturing Grundlagen der Zoologie, Praktikum
01/2013 – 06/2013 Scientific Employee at the Zoological Institute, University of Kiel, Germany. Research on arthropod attachment organs
11/2009 – 12/2012 Scientific Student Employee at the Zoological Institute, University of Kiel, Germany. Research on spider attachment organs. Educational assistant
09/2006 – 08/2007 Volunteer (FöJ als Zivildienst-Ersatz) at the Species Conservation Department at the district exchange Treptow-Köpenick, Berlin. Field work and data processing (monitoring of bat, amphibian and reptile populations), practical species conservation measures, processing of applications for keeping internationally protected (WA) species
Academic Education
01/2013 – 08/2015 Dr. rer. nat. at the University of Kiel, Germany, as a Scholar of the German National Merit Foundation, graded Summa cum laude (with distinction). Project title: Comparative functional morphology of attachment devices in Arachnida. Supervisor: Prof. Stanislav Gorb. Referees: Prof. Hinrich Schulenburg (University of Kiel), PD Dirk Brandis (Zoological Museum Kiel), Prof. Rolf Beutel (Friedrich Schiller University Jena)
10/2010 – 02/2013 Master of Science in Biology at the University of Kiel, Germany. Majors: Biodiversity and Evolution; Ecology. Minors: Environmental Management and Conservation; Geography. Master’s Thesis: Phylogenetic analysis of hairy adhesive pads in spiders (Arachnida, Araneae); Supervisor: Prof. Stanislav Gorb
10/2007 – 09/2010 Bachelor of Science in Biology at University of Kiel, Germany
Grants and Awards
2021 – 2024 DFG Individual Research Grant (PI)
2020 Company of Biologists Scientific Meeting Grant
2019 – 2021 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (PI)
2017 Early Career Researcher Outstanding Paper Prize of the Journal of Experimental Biology
2017 Company of Biologists Travel Grant (PI)
2016 – 2018 Macquarie University Research Fellowship (PI)
2016 – 2017 DFG Research Fellowship (PI) [declined in favour of MQRF]
2016 KiNSIS PhD-Award for Nano Life Science of the core network Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science
2016 Annual Faculty-Award ‘Best PhD-Thesis’ of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, University of Kiel
2013 – 2015 PhD Scholarship of the German National Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes) (PI)
2015 DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Travel Grant (PI)
2014 Biodiversity Award (Förderpreis Biodiversität) of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz
2014 DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Travel Grant (PI)
2014 Society of Experimental Biology Student Travel Grant (PI)
2013 Student Grant of the 19th International Congress of Arachnology (PI)
2012 Annual Award of the ‘Förderverein der Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel’
2011 Society of Experimental Biology Student Travel Grant (PI)
Teaching Experience

Teaching Experience

Lecturer University of Kiel biol-102 Grundlagen der Zoologie (2015): practical course for first semester undergraduates on animal anatomy
Guest lecturer Macquarie University BIOL316 Invertebrate Biology (2020)
University of Bern Arachnological Colloquium (2013)
Instructor Macquarie University BIOL711 Topics in Evolution (2017): writing skill course for graduates
University of Kiel biol-251 Biologie der Insekten (2015): practical course on insect biomechanics for graduates
University of Kiel biol-252 Biomechanik und Bionik (2015): practical course on insect biomechanics for graduates
University of Kiel biol-167 Grundlagen der Bionik (2014): practical course on insect biomechanics for undergraduates
University of Kiel biol-104 Exkursionen (2010-11): Zoological excursions for undergraduates
Teaching Assistant University of Kiel biol-104 Bestimmungsübungen, biol-102 Grundlagen der Zoologie, biol-151 Baupläne und deren Wandlungsfähigkeit im Tierreich (2009-12): Undergraduate courses on animal anatomy and species identification
Supervisor PhD thesis (Macquarie University, co-supervision, since 2019)
Master’s thesis (Macquarie University, co-supervision, 2017-18)
Master’s thesis (University of Bern, external co-supervision, 2014-15)
5 Bachelor’s theses (University of Kiel, 2013-16)
Refereed Journal Articles
Google Scholar
Research Gate
Names underlined were students under my supervision.
* equal contribution
Wolff JO, Michalik P, Ravelo AM, Herberstein ME, Ramírez MJ (2021) Evolution of silk anchor structure as the joint effect of spinning behavior and spinneret morphology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, In Press. doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab003.
Wolff JO, Wierucka K, Uhl G, Herberstein ME (2021) Building behaviour does not affect rates of phenotypic evolution in spiders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 118, e2102693118. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2102693118
Wolff JO, Liprandi D, Bosia F, Joel A-C, Pugno NM (2021) Robust substrate anchorages of silk lines with extensible nano-fibres. Soft Matter 17, 7903-7913. doi.org/10.1039/D1SM00552A
Seiter M, Schwaha T, Ferreira RL, Prendini L, Wolff JO (2021) Fine structure of the epicuticular secretion coat and associated glands of Pedipalpi and Palpigradi (Arachnida). Journal of Morphology 282, 1158-1169. doi.org/10.1002/jmor.21360
Wolff JO, von Byern J, Piorkowski D, Fang J, Wang X, Adler L, Thomas DS, Hook JM, Blamires S (2021) Adhesive droplets of glowworm snares (Keroplatidae: Arachnocampa spp.) are a complex mix of organic compounds. Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering 7, 27. (invited for Research Topic ‘Bioadhesion’). doi.org/10.3389/fmech.2021.661422
Wolff JO (2021) Locomotion and kinematics of arachnids. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 207, 99-103. (Editorial for themed issue) doi.org/10.1007/s00359-021-01478-2
Wolff JO (2020) Evolutionary kinematics of spinneret movements for rapid silk thread anchorage in spiders. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 207, 141-152. doi.org/10.1007/s00359-020-01453-3
Wolff JO, Little D, Herberstein MH (2020) Limits of piriform silk adhesion – similar effects of substrate surface polarity on silk anchor performance in two spider species with disparate microhabitat use. The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften 107, 1-10. doi.org/10.1007/s00114-020-01687-w
Lowe E*, Wolff JO*, Aceves-Aparicio A, Birkhofer K, Branco VV, Cardoso P, …, and Marie E. Herberstein (2020) Towards establishment of a centralized spider traits database. Journal of Arachnology 48, 103-109. doi.org/10.1636/0161-8202-48.2.103
Greco G, Wolff JO, Pugno NM (2020) Strong and tough silk for resilient attachment discs: the mechanical properties of piriform silk, in the spider Cupiennius salei (Keyserling, 1877). Frontiers in Materials 7, 138. (invited for Research Topic ‘Frontiers in Silk Science and Technology’). doi.org/10.3389/fmats.2020.00138
Wolff JO (2020) The Evolution of Dragline Initiation in Spiders: Multiple Transitions from Multi- to Single-Gland Usage. Diversity 12, 4. (invited for Special Issue ‘Systematics and Evolution of Spiders’ (ed. Goodacre S, Dimitrov D)) doi.org/10.3390/d12010004
Jeliazkov A, Mijatovic D, Chantepie S, Andrew N, Arlettaz R, Barbaro L, …, Wolff JO, …, Chase JM (2020) A global database for metacommunity ecology, integrating species, traits, environment and space. Scientific Data 7, 1-15. doi.org/10.1038/s41597-019-0344-7
Wolff JO, Paterno GB, Liprandi D, Ramírez MJ, Bosia F, van der Meijden A, Michalik P, Smith HM, Jones BR, Ravelo AM, Pugno N, Herberstein M (2019) Evolution of aerial spider webs coincided with repeated structural optimization of silk anchorages. Evolution 73, 2122-2134. (Journal Cover) doi.org/10.1111/evo.13834
Seiter M, Lemell P, Gredler R, Wolff JO (2019) Strike kinematics in the whip spider Charon sp. (Amblypygi: Charontidae). Journal of Arachnology 47, 260-5. doi.org/10.1636/JoA-S-18-089
Gibbons AT, Idnurm A, Seiter M, Dyer PS, Kokolski M, Goodacre SL, Gorb SN, Wolff JO (2019) Amblypygid-fungal interactions: The whip spider exoskeleton as a substrate for fungal growth. Fungal Biology 123, 497-506. doi.org/10.1016/j.funbio.2019.05.003
Wirth M, Wolff JO, Appel E, Gorb SN. (2019) Ultrastructure of spider thread anchorages. Journal of Morphology 280, 534-43. doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20962
Kruppert S, Deussen L, Weiss LC, Horstmann M, Wolff JO, Kleinteich T, Gorb SN, Tollrian R (2019) Zooplankters’ nightmare: The fast and efficient catching basket of larval phantom midges (Diptera: Chaoborus). PloS One 14, e0214013. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214013
Wolff JO, Wiegmann C, Wirkner CS, Koehnsen A, Gorb SN (2019) Traction reinforcement in prehensile feet of harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones). Journal of Experimental Biology 222, jeb192187. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.192187
Wolff JO, Jones B, Herberstein ME (2018) Plastic material investment in load-bearing silk attachments in spiders. Zoology 131, 45-7. doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2018.05.002
Frost KF, Gorb SN, Wolff JO (2018) Adhesion and friction in hunting spiders: The effect of contact splitting on their attachment ability. Zoologischer Anzeiger – A Journal of Comparative Zoology 273, 231-239. doi.org/10.1016/j.jcz.2018.01.003
Wolff JO, van der Meijden A, Herberstein ME (2017) Distinct spinning patterns gain differentiated loading tolerance of silk thread anchorages in spiders with different ecology. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 284, 20171124. doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1124
Wolff JO, Wells D, Reid CR, Blamires SJ (2017) Clarity of objectives and working principles enhances the success of biomimetic programs. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 12, 051001. doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/aa86ff
Wolff JO, Řezáč M, Krejčí T, Gorb SN (2017) Hunting with sticky tape: functional shift in silk glands of araneophagous ground spiders (Gnaphosidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 220, 2250-2259. (Editor’s Choice) doi.org/10.1242/jeb.154682
Labarque FM, Wolff JO, Michalik P, Griswold CE, Ramírez MJ (2017). The evolution and function of spider feet (Araneae, Arachnida): Multiple acquisitions of distal articulations. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 181, 308–341. doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlw030
Filippov AÉ, Wolff JO, Seiter M, Gorb SN (2017). Numerical simulation of colloidal self-assembly of superhydrophobic arachnid cerotegument structures. Journal of Theoretical Biology 430, 1-8. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.07.001
Wolff JO, Lovtsova J, Gorb E, Dai Z, Ji A, Zhao Z, Jiang N, Gorb SN (2017). Strength of silk attachment to Ilex chinensis leaves in the tea bagworm Eumeta minuscula (Lepidoptera, Psychidae). Journal of The Royal Society Interface 14, 20170007. doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2017.0007
Wolff JO, Herberstein MH (2017) Three-dimensional printing spiders: back-and-forth glue application yields silk anchorages with high pull-off resistance under varying loading situations. Journal of The Royal Society Interface 14, 20160783. (Journal Cover) doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2016.0783
Heepe L, Petersen DS, Tölle L, Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2017) Sexual dimorphism in the attachment ability of the ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata on soft substrates. Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing 123, 34. doi.org/10.1007/s00339-016-0684-5
Seiter M, Wolff JO (2017) Stygophrynus orientalis sp. nov. (Amblypygi: Charontidae) from Indonesia with the description of a remarkable spermatophore. Zootaxa 4232, 397-408. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4232.3.8
Wolff JO, Seiter M, Gorb SN (2017) The water-repellent cerotegument of whip-spiders (Arachnida: Amblypygi). Arthropod Structure and Development 46, 116-129. (part of Special Issue ‘Arthropod Cuticle Function: from Molecules to Structures to Ecology’, ed. Fabritius H-O, Moussian B) doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2016.10.010
Wolff JO, Schwaha T, Seiter M, Gorb SN (2016). Whip-spiders (Amblypygi) become water-repellent by a colloidal secretion that self-assembles into hierarchical microstructures. Zoological Letters 2, 23. doi.org/10.1186/s40851-016-0059-y
Heepe L, Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2016) Influence of ambient humidity on the attachment ability of ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata). Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 7, 1322–1329. (invited) doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.7.123
Wolff JO, Martens J, Schönhofer AL, Gorb SN (2016) Evolution of hyperflexible joints in sticky prey capture appendages of harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones). Organisms Diversity & Evolution 16, 549-557. doi.org/10.1007/s13127-016-0278-2
Wolff JO, Schönhofer AL, Martens J, Wijnhoven H, Taylor C, Gorb SN (2016) The evolution of pedipalps and glandular hairs as predatory devices in harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 177, 558-601. doi.org/10.1111/zoj.12375
Wolff JO, Seiter M, Gorb SN (2015) Functional anatomy of the pretarsus in whip spiders (Arachnida, Amblypygi). Arthropod Structure and Development 44, 524-540. doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2015.08.014
Eggs B, Wolff JO, Kuhn-Nentwig L, Gorb SN, Nentwig W (2015) Hunting without a web: how lycosoid spiders subdue their prey. Ethology 121, 1166-1177. doi.org/10.1111/eth.12432
Seiter M, Wolff JO, Hoerweg C (2015) A new species of the South East Asian genus Sarax Simon, 1892 (Arachnida: Amblypygi: Charinidae) and synonymization of Sarax mediterraneus Delle Cave, 1986. Zootaxa 4012, 542-552. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4012.3.8
Wolff JO, Huber S, Gorb SN (2015) How to stay on mummy's back: Morphological and functional changes of the pretarsus in arachnid postembryonic stages. Arthropod Structure and Development 44, 301-312. doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2015.04.004
Hüsken M, Hufnagel K, Mende K, Appel E, Meyer H, Peisker H, Tögel M, Wang S, Wolff J, Gorb SN, Paululat A (2015) Adhesive pad differentiation in Drosophila melanogaster depends on the Polycomb group gene Su(z)2. Journal of Experimental Biology 218, 1159-1165. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.108332
Wolff JO, Grawe I, Wirth M, Karstedt A, Gorb SN (2015) Spider’s super-glue: Thread anchors are composite adhesives with synergistic hierarchical organization. Soft Matter 11, 2394. doi.org/10.1039/C4SM02130D
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2015) Adhesive foot pads: an adaptation to climbing? An ecological survey in hunting spiders. Zoology 118, 1-7. (Journal Cover) doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2014.04.006
Wolff JO, Schönhofer A, Schaber C, Gorb SN (2014) Gluing the ‘un-wettable’: Soil-dwelling harvestmen use viscoelastic fluids for capturing springtails. Journal of Experimental Biology 217, 3535-3544. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.108852
Seiter M, Wolff JO (2014) Description of Sarax buxtoni (Gravely 1915) (Arachnida: Amblypygi: Charinidae) and a new case of parthenogenesis in Amblypygi from Singapore. Journal of Arachnology 42, 233-239. doi.org/10.1636/Ha14-13.1
Grawe I*, Wolff JO*, Gorb SN (2014) Composition and substrate-dependent strength of the silken attachment discs in spiders. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11, 20140477. doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0477
Wohlfart E, Wolff JO, Arzt E., Gorb SN (2014) The whole is more than the sum of all its parts: collective effect of spider attachment organs. Journal of Experimental Biology 217, 222-224. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.093468
Wolff JO, Nentwig W, Gorb SN (2013) The great silk alternative: Multiple coevolution of web loss and adhesive setae in spiders. PloS One 8, e62682. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062682
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2013) Radial arrangement of Janus-like setae permits friction control in spiders. Scientific Reports 3, 1101. doi.org/10.1038/srep01101
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2012) Comparative morphology of pretarsal scopulae in eleven spider families. Arthropod Structure and Development 41, 419-433. doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2012.04.004
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2012) Surface roughness effects on attachment ability of the spider Philodromus dispar (Araneae, Philodromidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 179-184. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.061507
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2011) The influence of humidity on the attachment ability of the spider Philodromus dispar (Araneae, Philodromidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 279, 139-143. doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.0505
Authored Books
Wolff JO, Gorb SN (2016) Attachment structures and adhesive secretions in arachnids. Biologically-inspired systems, Vol. 7. Springer, Cham, Switzerland. 184 pp. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45713-0
Book Chapters
Wolff JO (2017) Structural effects of glue application in spiders – What can we learn from silk anchors? In: Heepe L, Xue L, Gorb SN (eds.) Bio-inspired structured adhesives. Springer, Cham, Switzerland. pp 63-80. (invited) doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59114-8_5
Wolff JO, García-Hernández S, Gorb SN (2016) Adhesive Secretions in Harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones). In: Smith AM (ed.) Biological adhesives, 2nd edition. Springer, Cham, Switzerland. pp. 281-301. (invited) doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46082-6_12
Wolff JO, Schneider J, Gorb SN (2014) How to pass the gap - Functional morphology and biomechanics of spider bridging threads. In: Miller T, Asakura T (eds.) Biotechnology of silk. Springer, Heidelberg. pp. 165-177. (invited) doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7119-2_9