The role of prey size and abundance in the geographical distribution of spider sociality
Article first published online: 22 JUN 2007
Journal of Animal Ecology
Volume 76, Issue 5, pages 995–1003, September 2007
How to Cite
POWERS, K. S. and AVILÉS, L. (2007), The role of prey size and abundance in the geographical distribution of spider sociality. Journal of Animal Ecology, 76: 995–1003. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2007.01267.x
- Issue published online: 22 JUN 2007
- Article first published online: 22 JUN 2007
- Received 20 December 2006; accepted 25 April 2007
- group foraging;
- group living;
- insect size;
- social spiders
- 1Social species in the spider genus Anelosimus predominate in lowland tropical rainforests, while congeneric subsocial species occur at higher elevations or higher latitudes.
- 2We conducted a comparative study to determine whether differences in total biomass, insect size or both have been responsible for this pattern.
- 3We found that larger average insect size, rather than greater overall biomass per se, is a key characteristic of lowland tropical habitats correlating with greater sociality.
- 4Social species occupied environments with insects several times larger than the spiders, while subsocial species nearing dispersal occupied environments with smaller insects in either high or low overall biomass.
- 5Similarly, in subsocial spider colonies, individuals lived communally at a time when they were younger and therefore smaller than the average insect landing on their webs.
- 6We thus suggest that the availability of large insects may be a critical factor restricting social species to their lowland tropical habitats.