Herbivory in a spider through exploitation of an ant-plant mutualism.
Spiders are thought to be strict predators . 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 . 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.|