, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 595-600

A comparison of prey lengths among spiders

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Summary

Field observations and laboratory experiments were carried out to determine the influence of body length of preys on the acceptance rate by spiders. Feeding experiments with 13 spider species and a model prey (crickets) reveal a decreasing acceptance rate with increasing prey size. Prey sizes of 50–80% of the spiders' size yielded the highest acceptance rates, crickets of double the spiders' size were accepted by two species only. By fitting the acceptance rate Y versus prey size X by Y(x)=Y(0) (1-βx2), two coefficients could be calculated: Y(0), the size-independent palatibility of the prey and β, a coefficient of size-induced refusal of the prey. These values describe the degree of specialisation towards (a) crickets and (b) large prey, respectively. Further comparison showed (a) that labidognath (= araneomorph) spiders do not necessarily subdue larger prey items than orthognath (=mygalmorph) spiders and (b) that webbuilding spiders are superior to non-webbuilding spiders in respect of catching large prey. A modified model of the generalized pattern of the length relations of predator and prey is given with special reference to spiders and compared to other polyphagous predator groups.