Ecological impact of spider predation

Martin Nyffeler

Spiders are among the most abundant insectivorous animals of terrestrial ecosystems, reaching at times peak numbers of 1-10 million individuals per hectare. The ecological and economic significance of spider predation upon insects has been the subject of much speculation for several decades and this discussion is still going on. Over a period of more than ten years, I conducted extensive field studies on the population densities, feeding frequencies, and prey selection of spiders with the purpose of evaluating the ecological impact of these animals. (Knowledge of these facts is a prerequisite to quantitative impact studies.) Such studies were carried out in various types of habitat on different locations in Europe and North America. The data gathered thereby are analyzed and compared with the findings of other researchers resulting in comprehensive reviews being published in international journals.

Keywords: spiders - insects - predators - prey selection - ecological impact

Selected publications

Nyffeler M & Birkhofer K (2017) — An estimated 400–800 million tons of prey are annually killed by the global spider community — The Science of Nature 104: 30

Nyffeler M, Olson EJ & Symondson WOC (2016) — Plant-eating by spiders — Journal of Arachnology 44: 15–27

Nyffeler M & Pusey BJ (2014) — Fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders: a global pattern — PLoS ONE 9: e99459

Nyffeler M & Knörnschild M (2013) — Bat predation by spiders — PLoS ONE 8: e58120

Nyffeler M & Sunderland KD (2003) — Composition, abundance and pest control potential of spider communities in agroecosystems: a comparison of European and US studies — Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 95: 579–612

Nyffeler M (2000) — Ecological impact of spider predation: a critical assessment of Bristowe's and Turnbull's estimates — Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society 11: 367–373

Nyffeler M (1999) — Prey selection of spiders in the field — Journal of Arachnology 27: 317–324

Nyffeler M, Sterling WL & Dean DA (1994) — How spiders make a living — Environmental Entomology 23: 1357–1367

Nyffeler M, Dean DA & Sterling WL (1992) — Diets, feeding specialization, and predatory role of 2 lynx spiders, Oxyopes salticus and Peucetia viridans (Araneae, Oxyopidae), in a Texas cotton agroecosystem — Environmental Entomology 21: 1457–1465


List of all publications related to this project


jumping spider with prey

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