Individual variation between spiders on shores in the utilization of aquatic subsidies
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Intrapopulation variation is common in nature, and many generalist species actually consists of individual specialists. In food web ecology, stable isotope analysis is a common tool for examining energy and nutrient flows both between and within ecosystems, but large intrapopulation variation in isotopic values may lead to over- or underestimations of dietary variation between populations or species. Such large intraguild variation is common in spiders, which often are generalist predators. In this study we have used carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis to examine diets of shore-dwelling spiders, in relation to aquatic inflows to shore ecosystems. The study was carried out on shores inside and outside a eutrophicated bay in the Baltic Sea, using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis. Aquatic subsidies consisted of inflows of algae (mainly green filamentous algae) and emerging insects (Chironomidae). We found that spiders inside the bay all utilized mainly terrestrial prey, while spiders outside the bay, in particular wolf spiders, were separated into individuals utilizing either terrestrial or aquatic prey. The total population niche width was therefore larger outside than inside the bay. This individual specialization may be related to differences in nutrient enrichment in the aquatic ecosystem and/or salinity between sites inside and outside the bay, and we suggest that eutrophication decreases total niche width by affecting prey availability and prey choice of individual predators. We also conclude that while stable isotope analysis remains a useful tool for examining flows across ecosystem boundaries, caution is needed in the interpretation of data with large intrapopulation variation.
Research subject Plant Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-27224OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-27224DiVA: diva2:213001