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1 August 2013 Are phenological patterns of ballooning spiders linked to habitat characteristics?
Gilles Blandenier, Odile T. Bruggisser, Rudolf P. Rohr, Louis-Félix Bersier
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We describe here the phenological patterns of the 25 most common ballooning species of spiders caught by a 12.2 m suction trap during an eleven year survey in Switzerland. We aimed at identifying and quantifying the number, position, spread, and relative weight of activity periods for the whole community. Further, we explored the possible link between phenological patterns and habitat use. For this purpose, we used bump-hunting approaches and fitted mixtures of normal distributions to the abundance data. The phenologies can be grouped in four categories, from uni- to quadrimodal. The specific peaks in the timing of ballooning were found between February and November, with most ballooning activity occurring in summer and autumn. For some taxa, it was possible to analyze the data for young instars and adults. For the majority of taxa, the adults' peak appeared between the early and late peaks of immature individuals. Species inhabiting the ground level of open areas, often disturbed by agricultural practices, were clearly dominant in the multimodal categories; spiders living in more closed and stable habitats, such as tree-shrub and herb layers, typically had a single peak of adult dispersal. This discrepancy in phenology may simply reflect different numbers of generations, but may also result from an adaptation to maximize the persistence of populations in unstable habitats.

The American Arachnological Society
Gilles Blandenier, Odile T. Bruggisser, Rudolf P. Rohr, and Louis-Félix Bersier "Are phenological patterns of ballooning spiders linked to habitat characteristics?," The Journal of Arachnology 41(2), 126-132, (1 August 2013).
Received: 9 July 2012; Published: 1 August 2013
habitat use
suction trap
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