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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4382-6.

Extraordinarily high spider densities on islands: flow of energy from the marine to terrestrial food webs and the absence of predation.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA.

Abstract

Some islands in the Gulf of California support very high densities of spiders. Spider density is negatively correlated with island size; many small islands support 50-200 spiders per m3 of cactus. Energy for these spiders comes primarily from the ocean and not from in situ productivity by land plants. We explicitly connect the marine and terrestrial systems to show that insular food webs represent one endpoint of the marine web. We describe two conduits for marine energy entering these islands: shore drift and seabird colonies. Both conduits are related to island area, having a much stronger effect on smaller islands. This asymmetric effect helps to explain the exceptionally high spider densities on small islands. Although productivity sets the maximal potential densities, predation (by scorpions) limits realized spider abundance. Thus, prey availability and predation act in concert to set insular spider abundance.

PMID:
7753815
PMCID:
PMC41948
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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