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Abundance of Latrodectus katipo Powell, 1871 is affected by vegetation type and season


The seasonal abundance of Latrodectus katipo Powell, 1871, a declining spider species endemic to coastal dunes in New Zealand, was observed in two different plant communities: an endemic sedge, Ficinia spiralis A. Rich. and an exotic grass, Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link. Using artificial cover objects (ACOs), presence/absence data was collected for L. katipo in the two plant communities. ACOs were positioned at Kaitorete Spit, which supports a healthy population of L. katipo, adjacent to F. spiralis or A. arenaria. ACOs were checked over four seasons. L. katipo were found significantly more often in ACOs placed next to F. spiralis as opposed to A. arenaria and its presence was highest in summer. Conserving L. katipo will involve reducing the amount of A. arenaria in New Zealand’s sand dunes. Studies monitoring L. katipo population dynamics should do so in summer when they are most abundant.

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Many thanks to Emily Fountain, Ben Wiseman, Hamish Patrick, Andrew Pugh and Jamie Cooper for help with fieldwork and editing previous versions of the manuscript. We are grateful to Roman Biek and David Bailey for comments on the manuscript. This project was undertaken as part of the University of Glasgow’s MSci Work Placement scheme. The work placement was carried out by VRS at Lincoln University.

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Correspondence to Victoria R. Smith.

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Smith, V.R., Vink, C.J., Nager, R.G. et al. Abundance of Latrodectus katipo Powell, 1871 is affected by vegetation type and season. J Insect Conserv 18, 397–405 (2014).

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