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Estimate of the daily catch of prey by the wasp spider Argiope bruennichi (Scopoli) in the field: Original data and minireview

Martin Nyffeler

ABSTRACT

Contrib. Nat. Hist. 12: 10071020.

Prey capture by the large orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi (Scopoli) (Aranei- dae) was investigated in uncut grassland (heavily infested with flowering weeds and shrubs) in the outskirts of Zurich, Switzerland, on three consecutive days in early August (between 09:00 and 18:00 hours). A. bruennichi was found to be a predomin- antly diurnal predator of larger-sized grassland insects (Hymenoptera and Ortho-

ptera composing approx. 90% of the total prey biomass). On average, 38% of the encountered spiders were feeding. It is estimated that adult female A. bruennichi

captured, on average, approx. 90 mg (fresh weight) prey web

  • -

    1

d a y - 1 , w h i c h i s

equivalent of the weight of a worker honey bee. My results were compared with

the the

published estimates of other researchers.

Keywords: Wasp spider, Argiope bruennichi, Araneidae, feeding frequency, prey cap- ture rate, uncut grassland, Zurich, Switzerland.

Introduction

In recent years, orb-weaving spiders have become popular model systems to address questions in various fields of biology such as evolutionary biology, ecology, ethology, neurobiology, physiology, and even silk and venom chem- istry (e.g., Craig 1994; Elgar & al. 2000; Herberstein & al. 2005; Blackledge & Hayashi 2006; Schneider & al. 2005, 2006; Blamires & al. 2007, 2008; Brooks & al. 2008; Foellmer 2008), which makes it necessary to keep/breed these spiders under laboratory conditions (Zschokke & Herberstein 2005). "…Natural prey capture rates may provide helpful starting points when design- ing feeding regimes in the laboratory…" (Zschokke & Herberstein 2005). Also, natural prey capture rates need to be known in order to evaluate the spiders'

CONTRIBUTIONS TO NATURAL HISTORY

No. 12: 1007–1020 · 18 December 2009

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