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Concept: Wolf spider


While foraging theory predicts that predatory responses should be determined by the energy content and size of prey, it is becoming increasingly clear that carnivores regulate their intake of specific nutrients. We tested the hypothesis that prey nutrient composition and predator nutritional history affects foraging intensity, consumption, and prey selection by the wolf spider, Pardosa milvina. By altering the rearing environment for fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, we produced high quality flies containing more nitrogen and protein and less lipid than low quality fruit flies. In one experiment, we quantified the proportion of flies taken and consumption across a range of densities of either high or low quality flies and, in a second experiment, we determined the prey capture and consumption of spiders that had been maintained on contrasting diets prior to testing. In both cases, the proportion of prey captured declined with increasing prey density, which characterizes the Type II functional response that is typical of wolf spiders. Spiders with similar nutritional histories killed similar numbers of each prey type but consumed more of the low quality prey. Spiders provided high quality prey in the weeks prior to testing killed more prey than those on the low quality diet but there was no effect of prior diet on consumption. In the third experiment, spiders were maintained on contrasting diets for three weeks and then allowed to select from a mixture of high and low quality prey. Interestingly, feeding history affected prey preferences: spiders that had been on a low quality diet showed no preference but those on the high quality diet selected high quality flies from the mixture. Our results suggest that, even when prey size and species identity are controlled, the nutritional experience of the predator as well as the specific content of the prey shapes predator-prey interactions.

Concepts: Insect, Predation, Lotka–Volterra equation, Drosophila, Optimal foraging theory, Spider, Carnivore, Wolf spider


More than 80 incidences of fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders - observed at the fringes of shallow freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, and fens - are reviewed. We provide evidence that fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders is geographically widespread, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Fish predation by spiders appears to be more common in warmer areas between 40° S and 40° N. The fish captured by spiders, usually ranging from 2-6 cm in length, are among the most common fish taxa occurring in their respective geographic area (e.g., mosquitofish [Gambusia spp.] in the southeastern USA, fish of the order Characiformes in the Neotropics, killifish [Aphyosemion spp.] in Central and West Africa, as well as Australian native fish of the genera Galaxias, Melanotaenia, and Pseudomugil). Naturally occurring fish predation has been witnessed in more than a dozen spider species from the superfamily Lycosoidea (families Pisauridae, Trechaleidae, and Lycosidae), in two species of the superfamily Ctenoidea (family Ctenidae), and in one species of the superfamily Corinnoidea (family Liocranidae). The majority of reports on fish predation by spiders referred to pisaurid spiders of the genera Dolomedes and Nilus (>75% of observed incidences). There is laboratory evidence that spiders from several more families (e.g., the water spider Argyroneta aquatica [Cybaeidae], the intertidal spider Desis marina [Desidae], and the ‘swimming’ huntsman spider Heteropoda natans [Sparassidae]) predate fish as well. Our finding of such a large diversity of spider families being engaged in fish predation is novel. Semi-aquatic spiders captured fish whose body length exceeded the spiders' body length (the captured fish being, on average, 2.2 times as long as the spiders). Evidence suggests that fish prey might be an occasional prey item of substantial nutritional importance.

Concepts: Species, Predation, Order, Class, Spider, Wolf spider, Spider bite, Tarantula


Black widow spiders (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) are poisonous spiders endemic in Turkey. Latrodectus bites may cause myocarditis with increased cardiac enzymes. We treated two men (aged 20 and 33 years) who had myocarditis after black spider bites with leucocytosis and elevated levels of troponin I, creatine kinase and creatine kinase-MB fraction. Both patients had normal results on an ECG, and one patient had abnormal echocardiography with minimal left ventricular wall movement disorder. Both patients were hospitalised in the intensive care unit and treated with intravenous fluids, analgesics, spasmolytic drugs, tetanus prophylaxis and cardiac monitoring. The levels of troponin I, creatine kinase and creatine kinase-MB fraction improved, and the patients were discharged home on the third and fifth hospital day without complications. Myocarditis after a Latrodectus bite is rare, but may be associated with serious complications. Therefore, in regions endemic with Latrodectus spiders, prudent treatment of spider bites may include cardiac evaluation and monitoring.

Concepts: Cardiology, Wolf spider, Hexathelidae, Spider bite, Tarantula, Latrodectus, Katipo, Chelicerae


The wolf spider Lycosa tarantula returns home by means of path integration. Previous studies demonstrated: (i) that the angular component of the outbound run is measured using a polarized-light compass associated with the anterior median eyes; (ii) changes in direction of the substratum are detected by the anterior lateral eyes (ALEs); and (iii) in relation to the linear component of the outbound run, an increase of optic flow, in either the lateral or ventral fields of view, caused spiders to search for the burrow at a point nearer to the goal. However, the role of the secondary eyes [ALEs, posterior lateral eyes (PLEs) and posterior median eyes (PMEs)] in the perception of this optic flow and the importance of them for gauging the distance walked is still unknown. In this study, lateral or ventral gratings of wavelength λ=1 cm were used, with two groups of spiders in each setup: (1) PLEs+PMEs covered and (2) ALEs covered. The largest reduction in the distance walked to return to the burrow was observed with the ventral grating/ALEs covered. These results show the importance of the previously neglected ALEs for the visual behavior of these spiders. The possibility of gathering information for locomotion from the three pairs of secondary eyes in the mushroom bodies is discussed.

Concepts: Spider, Wolf spider, Spider bite, Tarantula, Lycosa


Bacillum thuringiensis (Bt) toxin produced in Cry1-expressing genetically modified rice (Bt rice) is highly effective to control lepidopteran pests, which reduces the needs for synthetic insecticides. Non-target organisms can be exposed to Bt toxins through direct feeding or trophic interactions in the field. The wolf spider Pardosa pseudoannulata, one of the dominant predators in South China, plays a crucial role in the rice agroecosystem. In this study, we investigated transcriptome responses of the 5th instar spiders fed on preys maintained on Bt- and non-Bt rice.

Concepts: Bacteria, Virus, Bacillus, Toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis, Spider, Genetically modified food, Wolf spider


We analyzed the reliability and information content of 134 medical case studies on spider bites, published in 91 journal articles. Overall, we found that only 22% of these studies fulfilled the criteria for a verified spider bite. This means that the majority of such case studies cannot be attributed to a given spider species and usually not even to a spider. Their scientific value is negligible, moreover, such publications are even dangerous because they suggest incorrect conclusions. Secondly, we found that such case studies usually do not follow an obvious structure and many details on the development of symptoms, therapy and healing process are widely lacking. So even for verified spider bites, the comparability of case studies is limited. We discuss the obvious failure of a reviewing process for case studies and give recommendations how to increase the currently low information content of medical case studies on spider bites.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Publishing, Wolf spider, Hexathelidae, Spider bite, Tarantula, Chelicerae


The aim of this project was to obtain a baseline understanding and investigate the concentration of mercury (Hg) in the tissue of terrestrial arthropods. The 4-month sampling campaign took place around Monterey Bay, California. Total mercury (HgT) concentrations (x ± SD, dry weight) for the captured specimens ranged from 22 to 188 ng g(-1) in the Jerusalem crickets (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae); 65-233 ng g(-1) in the camel crickets (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae); 25-227 ng g(-1) in the pill bugs (Isopoda: Armadillidiidae); 19-563 ng g(-1) in the ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae); 140-441 ng g(-1) in the variegated meadowhawk dragonflies (Odonata: Libellulidae); 607-657 ng g(-1) in the pacific spiketail dragonflies (Odonata: Cordulegastridae); and 81-1,249 ng g(-1) in the wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). A subset of samples analyzed for monomethyl mercury (MMHg) suggest detrital pill bugs have a higher MMHg/HgT ratio than predatory ground beetles.

Concepts: Insect, Arthropod, California, Beetle, Ground beetle, Spider, Wolf spider, Woodlouse


While phylogenetic studies have shown covariation between the properties of spider major ampullate (MA) silk and web building, both spider webs and silks are highly plastic so we cannot be sure whether these traits functionally co-vary or just vary across environments that the spiders occupy. Since MaSp2-like proteins provide MA silk with greater extensibility, their presence is considered necessary for spider webs to effectively capture prey. Wolf spiders (Lycosidae) are predominantly non-web building, but a select few species build webs. We accordingly collected MA silk from two web building and six non-web building species found in semi-rural ecosystems in Uruguay to test whether the presence of MaSp2-like proteins (indicated by amino acid composition), silk mechanical properties, and silk nanostructures, were associated with web building across the group. The web building and non-web building species were from disparate subfamilies so we estimated a genetic phylogeny to perform appropriate comparisons. For all of the properties measured we found differences between web building and non-web building species. A phylogenetic regression model confirmed that web building and not phylogenetic inertia influences silk properties. Our study definitively showed an ecological influence over spider silk properties. We expect that the presence of the MaSp2-like proteins and the subsequent nanostructures improves the mechanical performance of silks within the webs. Our study furthers our understanding of spider web and silk co-evolution and the ecological implications of spider silk properties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Biology, Silk, Spider silk, Spider, Spider web, Wolf spider, Spinneret, Spider bite


Generalist predators are capable of selective foraging, but are predicted to feed in close proportion to prey availability to maximize energetic intake especially when overall prey availability is low. By extension, they are also expected to feed in a more frequency-dependent manner during winter compared to the more favorable foraging conditions during spring, summer and fall seasons. For 18 months, we observed the foraging patterns of forest-dwelling wolf spiders from the genus Schizocosa (Araneae: Lycosidae) using PCR-based gut-content analysis and simultaneously monitored the activity-densities of two common prey: springtails (Collembola) and flies (Diptera). Rates of prey detection within spider guts relative to rates of prey collected in traps were estimated using Roualdes' cstmodel and compared using various linear contrasts to make inferences pertaining to seasonal prey selectivity. Results indicated spiders foraged selectively over the course of the study, contrary to predictions derived from optimal foraging theory. Even during winter, with overall low prey densities, the relative rates of predation compared to available prey differed significantly over time and by prey group. Moreover, these spiders appeared to diversify their diets; the least abundant prey group was consistently overrepresented in the diet within a given season. We suggest that foraging in generalist predators is not necessarily restricted to frequency-dependency during winter. In fact, foraging motives other than energy maximization, such as a more nutrient-focused strategy, may also be optimal for generalist predators during prey-scarce winters. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Predation, Season, Autumn, Optimal foraging theory, Foraging, Spider, Wolf spider, Spider bite


Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal that can cause irreversible toxicity to animals, and is an environmental pollutant in farmlands. Spiders are considered to be an excellent model for investigating the impacts of heavy metals on the environment. To date, the changes at the molecular level in the cerebral ganglia of spiders are poorly understood. Cd exposure leads to strong damage in the nervous system, such as apoptosis and necrosis of nerve cells, therefore we conducted a transcriptomic analysis of Pardosa pseudoannulata cerebral ganglia under Cd stress to profile differential gene expression (DGE). We obtained a total of 123,328 assembled unigenes, and 1441 Cd stress-associated DEGs between the Cd-treated and control groups. Expression profile analysis demonstrated that many genes involved in calcium signaling, cGMP-PKG signaling, tyrosine metabolism, phototransduction-fly, melanogenesis and isoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis were up-regulated under Cd stress, whereas oxidative phosphorylation-related, nervous disease-associated, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease-associated, and ribosomal-associated genes were down-regulated. Here, we provide a comprehensive set of DEGs influenced by Cd stress, and heavy metal stress, and provide new information for elucidating the neurotoxic mechanisms of Cd stress in spiders.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Ganglion, Toxicology, Heavy metal music, Spider, Wolf spider, Spider bite