Stable isotope analyses of web-spinning spider assemblages along a headwater stream in Puerto Rico

TitleStable isotope analyses of web-spinning spider assemblages along a headwater stream in Puerto Rico
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKelly, SP, Cuevas, E, Ramírez, A
Series TitlePeerJ
Accession NumberLUQ.1274
KeywordsAquatic insects, El Yunque National Forest, reciprocal subsidies, riparian zone

Web-spinning spiders that inhabit stream channels are considered specialists of aquatic ecosystems and are major consumers of emerging aquatic insects, while other spider taxa are more commonly found in riparian forests and as a result may consume more terrestrial insects. To determine if there was a difference in spider taxa abundance between riverine web-spinning spider assemblages within the stream channel and the assemblages 10 m into the riparian forest, we compared abundances for all web-spinning spiders along a headwater stream in El Yunque National Forest in northeast Puerto Rico. By using a nonmetric dimensional scaling (NMDS) abundance analysis we were able to see a clear separation of the two spider assemblages. The second objective of the study was to determine if aquatic insects contributed more to the diet of the spider assemblages closest to the stream channel and therefore stable isotope analyses of δ (15)N and δ (13)C for web-spinning spiders along with their possible prey were utilized. The results of the Bayesian mixing model (SIAR) however showed little difference in the diets of riverine (0 m), riparian (10 m) and upland (25 m) spiders. We found that aquatic insects made up ∼50% of the diet for web-spinning spiders collected at 0 m, 10 m, and 25 m from the stream. This study highlights the importance of aquatic insects as a food source for web-spinning spiders despite the taxonomic differences in assemblages at different distances from the stream.