Predator-prey interactions between web-invading jumping spiders and two species of tropical web-building pholcid spiders, Psilochorus sphaeroides and Smeringopus pallidus

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Abstract

Psilochorus sphaeroides from Queensland, Australia and Smeringopus pallidus from Sri Lanka are long-legged, web-building pholcid spiders with a special defence behaviour, whirling. The efficiency of whirling as a defence against web-invading jumping spiders (Salticidae) was examined in the laboratory. Three salticid species were used in these tests-Euryattus sp., Portia fimbriata and Portia labiata. Euryattus leapt into webs, but Portia fimbriata and Portia labiata walked slowly into webs and practised aggressive mimicry. Portia fimbriata was more consistent at using aggressive mimicry and more efficient at capturing Psilochorus sphaeroides and Smeringopus pallidus than was Portia labiata. Both species of Portia were more efficient at catching pholcids than was Euryattus. Portia, especially Portia fimbriata, was less inclined than Euryattus to stimulate pholcids to whirl. In an experiment in which pholcids were artificially induced to whirl whenever a salticid was near, salticids never captured pholcids, providing additional evidence that whirling is an effective defence of Psilochorus sphaeroides and Smeringopus pallidus against web-invaders. Results from this study are compared to those from a study of another pholcid that whirls, Pholcus phalangioides.

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