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Emerging mosquitoes (Aedes nigripes) as a resource subsidy for wolf spiders (Pardosa glacialis) in western Greenland


Aquatic insects are often consumed by terrestrial predators in Arctic tundra. However, this aquatic-terrestrial linkage may be disrupted by rapid warming that is causing a decrease in freshwater habitats across large areas of the Arctic. In this study, we investigated emerging mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) as a resource subsidy for wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) in western Greenland, an area where significant pond drying has occurred in recent decades. We used pitfall trapping to compare the abundance, size, and fecundity of wolf spiders collected near (< 1 m) versus far (75–100 m) from the margins of three tundra ponds before, during, and after mosquito emergence. Nearly 90% of the wolf spiders collected in our study were Pardosa glacialis, the species that subsequently became the focus of our analyses. P. glacialis abundances, sizes, and the proportion of females with an egg sac were similar throughout the season both near and far from ponds. However, females near ponds produced about 20% more eggs per egg sac. Stable isotope analyses and a laboratory experiment confirmed mosquito consumption by P. glacialis and demonstrated that individuals collected near tundra ponds were significantly depleted in 13C relative to those in upland habitats, indicating differences in food resources among habitats. Our evidence indicates that mosquitoes do indeed serve as a subsidy to wolf spiders in western Greenland, but the demographic effects on spiders appear to be modest. Thus, P. glacialis abundance in the landscape may be relatively robust to pond drying and associated biotic and abiotic changes. Further studies will be needed to assess the broader effects for tundra ecosystems of disruptions to this and other aquatic-terrestrial linkages via the drying of ponds.

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Data are available in Online Resource 2.


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We thank Angela Spickard, Balt von Huene, and Reyn Hutten for help with lab and field work, the CH2MHill Polar Services team for excellent logistical support and Naalakkersuisut (the Government of Greenland) for permission to conduct research in Greenland. We also thank Julien Pétillon, Jesamine Bartlett, and one anonymous reviewer for providing valuable feedback on this manuscript during the review process.


This study was supported by a U.S. National Science Foundation award to LEC, MPA, and RAV (#1748137). Additional funding was provided to AMS through a Dartmouth College Undergraduate Advising and Research Program Honors Thesis Grant and to HMB through a Stefansson Fellowship from Dartmouth’s Institute of Arctic Studies. Funding for stable isotope analysis was provided to HMB from the Jerry Manne Fund in Environmental Studies.

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LEC, AMS, RAV, and MPA conceived and designed the study. AMS, HMB, MHD, and LEC conducted experiments and carried out field sampling. AMS processed spider pitfall samples and HMB processed stable isotope samples. AMS, MPA, and LEC analyzed field data and HMB, LEC, and RAV analyzed and interpreted stable isotope data. AMS and LEC wrote the manuscript and all authors read, edited, and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lauren E. Culler.

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This article belongs to the special issue on the “Pathways and impacts of biotically-mediated marine and other stored nutrient transfer between polar ecosystems”, coordinated by Peter Convey, Katarzyna Zmudczyńska-Skarbek, and Stef Bokhorst.

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Culler, L.E., Stendahl, A.M., DeSiervo, M.H. et al. Emerging mosquitoes (Aedes nigripes) as a resource subsidy for wolf spiders (Pardosa glacialis) in western Greenland. Polar Biol (2021).

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  • Wolf spiders
  • Greenland
  • Aquatic-terrestrial linkages
  • Mosquitoes