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Money spider dietary choice in pre- and post-harvest cereal crops using metabarcoding

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jordan CuffORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Money spiders (Linyphiidae) are an important component of conservation biological control in cereal crops, but they rely on alternative prey when pests are not abundant, such as between cropping cycles. To optimally benefit from these generalist predators, prey choice dynamics must first be understood.Money spiders and their locally available prey were collected from cereal crops 2 weeks pre- and post-harvest. Spider gut DNA was amplified with two novel metabarcoding primer pairs designed for spider dietary analysis, and sequenced.The combined general and spider-exclusion primers successfully identified prey from 15 families in the guts of the 46 linyphiid spiders screened, whilst avoiding amplification of Erigone spp. The primers show promise for application to the diets of other spider families such as Agelenidae and Pholcidae.Distinct invertebrate communities were identified pre- and post-harvest, and changes in spider diet and, to a lesser extent, prey choice reflected this. Spiders were found to consume one another more than expected, indicating their propensity towards intraguild predation, but also consumed common pest families.Changes in spider prey choice may redress prey community changes to maintain a consistent dietary intake. Consistent provision of alternative prey via permanent refugia should be considered to sustain effective conservation biocontrol.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cuff JP, Drake LE, Tercel MPTG, Stockdale JE, Orozco-terWengel P, Bell JR, Vaughan IP, Müller CT, Symondson WOC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecological Entomology

Year: 2021

Volume: 46

Issue: 2

Pages: 249-261

Print publication date: 01/04/2021

Online publication date: 09/10/2020

Acceptance date: 16/09/2020

Date deposited: 29/10/2021

ISSN (print): 0307-6946

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2311

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/een.12957


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Funder referenceFunder name
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Grant Numbers: BB/M009122/1, BBS/E/C/000 J0200