Temporal variation in spider trophic interactions is explained by the influence of weather on prey communities, web building and prey choice

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cuff, J. P., Windsor, F. M., Tercel, M. P. T. G., Bell, J. R., Symondson, W. O. C. and Vaughan, I. P 2023. Temporal variation in spider trophic interactions is explained by the influence of weather on prey communities, web building and prey choice. Ecography. 7, p. e06737. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.06737

AuthorsCuff, J. P., Windsor, F. M., Tercel, M. P. T. G., Bell, J. R., Symondson, W. O. C. and Vaughan, I. P
Abstract

Generalist invertebrate predators are sensitive to weather conditions, but the relationship between their trophic interactions and weather is poorly understood. This study investigates how weather affects the identity and frequency of spider trophic interactions over time, alongside prey community structure, web characteristics and prey choice. Spiders (Linyphiidae and Lycosidae) and their prey were collected from barley fields in Wales, UK, from April to September 2017-2018. The gut contents of 300 spiders were screened using DNA metabarcoding, analysed via multivariate models and compared against prey availability using null models. When linyphiids were collected from webs, the height and area of webs were recorded and compared against weather conditions. Trophic interactions changed over time and with weather conditions, primarily related to concomitant changes in prey communities. Spiders did, however, appear to mitigate the effects of structural changes in prey communities through changing prey preferences according to prevailing weather conditions, possibly facilitated by adaptive web construction. Using these findings, we demonstrate that prey choice data collected under different weather conditions can be used to refine inter-annual predictions of spider trophic interactions, although prey abundance was secondary to diversity in driving the diet of these spiders. By improving our understanding of the interaction between trophic interactions and weather, we can better predict how ecological networks are likely to change over time in response to variation in weather conditions and, more urgently, global climate change.

KeywordsClimate; Dietary analysis; Metabarcoding; Meteorology ; Network ecology; Predictive modelling
Year of Publication2023
JournalEcography
Journal citation7, p. e06737
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.06737
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Insect Survey - National Capability [2017-2022]
South West Biosciences: A Doctoral Training Programme for Bioscience students at Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Exeter and Rothamsted Research
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online15 Jun 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Apr 2023
PublisherWiley
ISSN0906-7590

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