Herbivory in a spider through exploitation of an ant-plant mutualism.

Spiders are thought to be strict predators [1]. We describe a novel exception: Bagheera kiplingi, a Neotropical jumping spider (Salticidae) that exploits a well-studied ant–plant mutualism, is predominantly herbivorous. From behavioral field observations and stable-isotope analyses, we show that the main diet of this host-specific spider comprises specialized leaf tips (Beltian food bodies; Figure 1A) from Vachellia spp. ant-acacias (formerly Acacia spp.), structures traded for protection in the plant's coevolved mutualism with Pseudomyrmex spp. ants that inhabit its hollow thorns [2]. This is the first report of a spider that feeds primarily and deliberately on plants.

Main Author: Meehan, Christopher J.
Other Authors: Olson, Eric J., Reudink, Matthew W., Kyser, T. Kurt., Curry, Robert L.
Format: Villanova Faculty Authorship
Language: English
Published: 2009
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:175595