Oecologia | VOL. 86

Food consumption and diet composition of the web-building spider Agelena limbata in two habitats

Publication Date Mar 1, 1991


Prey capture rate, food consumption, and diet composition of all developmental stages of the funnelweb spider Agelena limbata were estimated in woody and open habitats by a sight-count method. Prey availability was evaluated on the basis of two indices, i.e. the ratios of daily food consumption to dry weight of predator and to daily standard metabolic rate. These indices varied seasonally and between instars in this spider. Comparison of these indices between arthropod predators suggests that A. limbata live under conditions of relatively limited food supply. In the open habitat, the spiders reduced foraging activities to avoid heat stress at midday in summer because the sheet web was exposed to the direct rays of the sun and its temperature exceeded 40°C. The daily food consumption of adult spiders in the open habitat was about half of that in the woody habitat. The lower rate of energy intake of spiders in the open habitat may cause the observed smaller size of adults and lower fecundity. A. limbata captured a great range of prey comprising ten orders of arthropods and ate chemically defended insects, e.g. stink bugs, lady beetles, and ants which were rejected by many spiders. This generalistic foraging may be associated with limited and heterogeneous food supply in this spider.


Limited Food Supply Open Habitat Midday In Summer Prey Capture Rate Daily Food Consumption Sheet Web Woody Habitat Stink Bugs Lady Beetles Limited Food

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