Spiders are known to be the classic example of insectivorous predators. Zoologists from the University of Basel, the US and UK have now been able to show that their diet is more diverse than expected. Their findings show that spiders like to spice up their menu with the occasional vegetarian meal. The Journal of Arachnology has published the results.
Although traditionally viewed as a predator of insects, researchers have become increasingly aware that spiders are not exclusively insectivorous. Some spiders have been shown to enrich their diets by occasionally feasting on fish, frogs or even bats. A new study by Zoologists from the University of Basel, Brandeis University (US) and Cardiff University (UK) now shows evidence of spiders eating plant food as well.
Plants as diet supplement
The researchers gathered and documented numerous examples from literature of spiders eating plant food. According to their systematic review, spiders from ten families have been reported feeding on a wide variety of different plant types such as trees, shrubs, weeds, grasses, ferns or orchids. They also show a diverse taste when it comes to the type of plant food: nectar, plant sap, honeydew, leaf tissue, pollen and seeds are all on the menu.
The most prominent group of spiders engaged in plant-eating are Salticidae – a diurnal spider family with characteristically large anterior median eyes. Salticidae were attributed with up to 60 percent of all plant-eating incidents documented in this study. As plant-dwelling, highly mobile foragers with excellent capability to detect suitable plant food, these spiders seems to be predestined to include some plant food in their diets.
Global feeding behavior
Spiders feeding on plants is global in its extent, as such behavior has been reported from all continents except Antarctica. However, it is documented more frequently from warmer areas. The researchers suggest that this might be due to the fact that a larger number of the reports relate to nectar consumption which has its core distribution in warmer areas where plants secreting large amounts of nectar are widespread.
“The ability of spiders to derive nutrients from plants is broadening the food base of these animals; this might be a survival mechanism helping spiders to stay alive during periods when insects are scarce”, says lead author Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel in Switzerland. “In addition, diversifying their diet with plant is advantageous from a nutritional point of view, since diet mixing is optimizing nutrient intake.” However, the extent to which the different categories of plant food contribute to the spiders’ diet is still largely unexplored.
Martin Nyffeler, Eric J. Olson, William O.C. Symondson
Plant-eating by spiders
Journal of Arachnology (2016) 44: 15-27 | doi: 10.1636/P15-45.1
PD Dr. Martin Nyffeler, University of Basel, Department of Environmental Sciences, Tel. +41 61 702 07 03, email: email@example.com
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences