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Spiders feeding on earthworms revisited : Consumption of giant earthworms in the tropics

Nyffeler, Martin; Lapinski, Witold; Snyder, Andrew and Birkhofer, Klaus LU (2017) In Journal of Arachnology 45(2). p.242-247
Abstract

Predation on earthworms is common in some generalist predator species, as for example several ground beetle species (Coleoptera: Carabidae) that frequently feed on earthworms. In spiders (Araneae), however, such behavior is far less well documented. A survey of reports on spiders feeding on earthworms yielded a total of 44 naturally occurring predation events. Spiders from 14 families were observed feeding on earthworms in nature, and species from two additional families consumed earthworm prey in captivity. Earthworm predation by spiders has been observed in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions in 18 different countries. Tropical spiders from the families Theraphosidae (Mygalomorphae) and Ctenidae (Araneomorphae) accounted for... (More)

Predation on earthworms is common in some generalist predator species, as for example several ground beetle species (Coleoptera: Carabidae) that frequently feed on earthworms. In spiders (Araneae), however, such behavior is far less well documented. A survey of reports on spiders feeding on earthworms yielded a total of 44 naturally occurring predation events. Spiders from 14 families were observed feeding on earthworms in nature, and species from two additional families consumed earthworm prey in captivity. Earthworm predation by spiders has been observed in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions in 18 different countries. Tropical spiders from the families Theraphosidae (Mygalomorphae) and Ctenidae (Araneomorphae) accounted for 59% of the reported predation events. Reports from French Guiana document the capture of giant earthworms (0.6-1 m in length) by the giant tarantula, Theraphosa blondi (Latreille, 1804). Predation on giant earthworms by large tarantulas has also been observed in rainforest habitats in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Wandering spiders (Ctenidae) are known to feed on earthworms in Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guyana, and Singapore. Quite obviously, larger-sized mygalomorph and araneomorph spiders in humid tropical rainforests are predators with broad feeding niches-including earthworms and vertebrate prey in addition to arthropod prey-and this is presumed to improve the survival of these spiders. By comparison, reports of earthworm predation in temperate climate are rarer, and recent molecular studies of the diet composition of lycosid and linyphiid spider species in Swedish arable fields suggest that earthworms are not a common prey of these species.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Ctenidae, Diet composition, Generalist predators, Oligochaeta, Theraphosidae
in
Journal of Arachnology
volume
45
issue
2
pages
6 pages
publisher
American Arachnological Society
external identifiers
  • scopus:85026848368
ISSN
0161-8202
DOI
10.1636/JoA-17-013.1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
54ce57d3-85ce-41f1-b001-31adca8891f5
date added to LUP
2017-08-29 15:16:30
date last changed
2018-05-29 10:24:43
@article{54ce57d3-85ce-41f1-b001-31adca8891f5,
  abstract     = {<p>Predation on earthworms is common in some generalist predator species, as for example several ground beetle species (Coleoptera: Carabidae) that frequently feed on earthworms. In spiders (Araneae), however, such behavior is far less well documented. A survey of reports on spiders feeding on earthworms yielded a total of 44 naturally occurring predation events. Spiders from 14 families were observed feeding on earthworms in nature, and species from two additional families consumed earthworm prey in captivity. Earthworm predation by spiders has been observed in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions in 18 different countries. Tropical spiders from the families Theraphosidae (Mygalomorphae) and Ctenidae (Araneomorphae) accounted for 59% of the reported predation events. Reports from French Guiana document the capture of giant earthworms (0.6-1 m in length) by the giant tarantula, Theraphosa blondi (Latreille, 1804). Predation on giant earthworms by large tarantulas has also been observed in rainforest habitats in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Wandering spiders (Ctenidae) are known to feed on earthworms in Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guyana, and Singapore. Quite obviously, larger-sized mygalomorph and araneomorph spiders in humid tropical rainforests are predators with broad feeding niches-including earthworms and vertebrate prey in addition to arthropod prey-and this is presumed to improve the survival of these spiders. By comparison, reports of earthworm predation in temperate climate are rarer, and recent molecular studies of the diet composition of lycosid and linyphiid spider species in Swedish arable fields suggest that earthworms are not a common prey of these species.</p>},
  author       = {Nyffeler, Martin and Lapinski, Witold and Snyder, Andrew and Birkhofer, Klaus},
  issn         = {0161-8202},
  keyword      = {Ctenidae,Diet composition,Generalist predators,Oligochaeta,Theraphosidae},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {242--247},
  publisher    = {American Arachnological Society},
  series       = {Journal of Arachnology},
  title        = {Spiders feeding on earthworms revisited : Consumption of giant earthworms in the tropics},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1636/JoA-17-013.1},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2017},
}