Ecology | VOL. 56

Food Limitation of the Spider Linyphia marginata: Experimental Field Studies

Publication Date May 1, 1975


Field experiments were performed to determine whether the spider Linyphia marginate C. L. Koch is food limited, and, if so, whether a shortage of prey acts as a density- independent or density-dependent limiting factor. The experiments uncovered the effects of food supply, spider density, and the interaction of food and density upon survival (combined effects of migration and mortality), rate of increase in weight, and fecundity. Replicate, un- enclosed spider populations were established at two densities, and natural food levels were supplemented by fruit flies added to the spider webs in one-half of the populations at each density. Adding food to the webs of immature spiders did not improve survival at either low or high spider density. Survival was lower in the high-density populations. Supplementing the food supply of immatures did increase the rate at which they gained weight. Density, how- ever, had no negative effect on growth rate, indicating that though a shortage of food limits growth, immature spiders are not competing for food. Hence, for immature L. marginata, food supply acts as a density-independent limiting factor. For mature 9 9, supplementing the food supply improved survival and increased fecundity. Spider density had a negative effect upon both survival and fecundity. There were no statis- tically significant interactions between food supply and density, probably because not enough food was added. It appears that mature L. marginate compete for food; hence, for them, food supply acts as a density-dependen...


Spider Density Rate Of Increase In Weight Food Supply High Spider Density Immature Spiders Negative Effect Increase In Weight High-density Populations Spider Webs Field Experiments

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