Herbivory in Spiders: The Importance of Pollen for Orb-Weavers

Eggs, Benjamin; Sanders, Dirk (2013). Herbivory in Spiders: The Importance of Pollen for Orb-Weavers. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e82637. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0082637

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Orb-weaving spiders (Araneidae) are commonly regarded as generalist insect predators but resources provided by plants such as pollen may be an important dietary supplementation. Their webs snare insect prey, but can also trap aerial plankton like pollen and fungal spores. When recycling their orb webs, the spiders may therefore also feed on adhering pollen grains or fungal spores via extraoral digestion. In this study we measured stable isotope ratios in the bodies of two araneid species (Aculepeira ceropegia and Araneus diadematus), their potential prey and pollen to determine the relative contribution of pollen to their diet. We found that about 25% of juvenile orb-weaving spiders’ diet consisted of pollen, the other 75% of flying insects, mainly small dipterans and hymenopterans. The pollen grains in our study were too large to be taken up accidentally by the spiders and had first to be digested extraorally by enzymes in an active act of consumption. Therefore, pollen can be seen as a substantial component of the spiders’ diet. This finding suggests that these spiders need to be classified as omnivores rather than pure carnivores.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Community Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Eggs, Benjamin and Sanders, Dirk

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Alexander Strauss

Date Deposited:

31 Mar 2014 10:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2014 19:41

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0082637

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.47924

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/47924

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