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Spiders Have More Diverse Diet Than Previously Thought

jumping spider

Contrary to popular belief, spiders like to snack on leaves and saps too. An international team of zoologists documented plant-eating spiders around the world except in Antarctica where no vegetarian activity was observed.
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Spiders Have More Diverse Diet Than Previously Thought

Spiders enjoy snacking on seeds, leaves and other floras, a new study has found. They may be terrifying creatures to some but their diverse diet is more varied than some humans.

Researchers have found that among the plant-eating spider species, the friendly jumping spiders loved snacking on greens most. An international team of zoologists found that spider species from 10 families worldwide ate sap, nectar, leaves, honeydew, pollen and seeds.

The Salticidae family is the biggest spider group that enjoys a vegetarian meal every now and then. These jumping spiders have more than 5,000 species living around the globe. In the study, the Salticidae spiders covered 60 percent of all the plant-eating activities.

Interestingly, the team found that while Antarctica has both plants and terrestrial spiders, they found no documented incidents of spider-eating-plants activities there. But around the world, spiders’ diets include vegetarian meals, especially in warmer regions where plants bear more nectar.

Lead study author Martin Nyffeler from University of Basel said that the spiders’ ability to get nutrients from plants is diversifying the spiders’ food base. The plant-eating activity could be a means of survival during the seasons when insect foods are limited.

“In addition, diversifying their diet with plant is advantageous from a nutritional point of view, since diet mixing is optimizing nutrient intake,” added Nyffeler.

The new research provides data that shed new light on spiders’ eating habits. The common notion is spiders eat other insects that are trapped in their webs. In recent years, there were reports that some spiders also feast on frogs, fish and even bats.

The researchers noted that further studies are needed to look into the various food categories that make up the spiders’ vegetable meals. But the team mentioned that the findings are not as surprising since spiders are plant-dwellers. They are also highly mobile, enabling them to forage for good quality plant food to add to their diets.

The research was a joint effort of zoologists from the UK’s Cardiff University, Switzerland’s University of Basel and U.S.’ Brandeis University. The new study was published in the American Journal of Arachnology.

source : Tech Time

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