Eastern hemlock [Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière] is a foundation species in forests of eastern North America that plays a key role in ecosystem function. It is highly susceptible to the exotic invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand), which is causing widespread hemlock mortality. We surveyed the spider communities of eastern hemlock and deciduous canopies over 2 yr, collecting over 4,000 spiders from 21 families. We found that eastern hemlock canopies harbored a more abundant, rich, and diverse spider community than did deciduous canopies. Five spider families were present in our hemlock collections that were absent from the deciduous collections, including Mysmenidae, Theridiosomatidae, Mimetidae, Lycosidae, and Agelenidae. In hemlock canopies there were 4× the number of web builders, consisting primarily of the Tetragnathidae and Araneidae, than active hunters, consisting primarily of the Anyphaenidae and the Salticidae. Ours is the first in depth study of the spider community in eastern hemlock. Spider abundance in hemlock canopies suggest that they may play a role regulating herbivore populations, and could possibly affect the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, either through direct consumption of the adelgids themselves or through interactions with classical biological control agents.
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Vol. 40 • No. 6