Trait-mediated effects of predators can impact prey population dynamics by affecting prey behavior. The mirid bug Stenotus rubrovittatus (Matsumura) (Hemiptera: Miridae), a major insect pest in Japanese rice production, usually remains in the upper layer of paddies to feed on rice ears. However, the mirids are frequently trapped by horizontal webs of Tetragnatha spp. spiders, which are highly abundant in organic rice paddies, and fall to the bottom layers of paddies where they are preyed upon by ground-dwelling predators. It is hypothesized that Tetragnatha spp. spiders facilitate bug predation by wolf spiders through trait-mediated effects, in which their horizontal webs force the bugs onto or near the ground and thereby into the hunting zones of wolf spiders. Molecular gut-content analysis of 619 wolf spiders coupled with field measurements revealed that the number of wolf spiders that tested positive for mirid bug predation increased significantly with the density of Tetragnatha spp. spiders in the paddies. We also observed a positive relationship between Tetragnatha spp. abundance and total cover by their webs in paddies. We identified the potential for an unexpected interaction between an herbivorous insect pest and ground-dwelling spiders that usually inhabit different microhabitats in paddy fields by focusing on trait-mediated effects of webs built by Tetragnatha spp. Because spider webs occupy a certain proportion of the available space in terrestrial ecosystems, consideration of trait-mediated effects on interactions between flying insects and other predators may lead to a better understanding of local food webs.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1