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17 June 2020 Spiders as frog-eaters: a global perspective
Martin Nyffeler, Ronald Altig
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In this paper, 374 incidents of frog predation by spiders are reported based on a comprehensive global literature and social media survey. Frog-catching spiders have been documented from all continents except for Antarctica (>80% of the incidents occurring in the warmer areas between latitude 30° N and 30° S). Frog predation by spiders has been most frequently documented in the Neotropics, with particular concentration in the Central American and Amazon rain forests and the Brazilian Atlantic forest. The captured frogs are predominantly small-sized with an average body length of 2.76 ± 0.13 cm (usually ≈0.2–3.8 g body mass). All stages of the frogs' life cycle (eggs/embryos, hatchlings, tadpoles, emerging metamorphs, immature post-metamorphs, adults) are vulnerable to spider predation. The majority (85%) of the 374 reported incidents of frog predation were attributable to web-less hunting spiders (in particular from the superfamilies Ctenoidea and Lycosoidea) which kill frogs by injection of powerful neurotoxins. The frog-catching spiders are predominantly nocturnal with an average body length of 2.24 ± 0.12 cm (usually ≈0.1–2.7 g body mass). Altogether >200 frog species from 32 families (including several species of bitter tasting dart-poison frogs) have been documented to be hunted by >100 spider species from 22 families. Our finding that such a high diversity of spider taxa is utilizing such a high variety of frog taxa as prey is novel. The utilization of frogs as supplementary food increases the spiders' food supply (i.e., large diet breadth), and this is presumed to enhance their chance of survival. Studies from Australia and South America indicate that frogs might be a substantial component in the diet of some mygalomorph spiders (i.e., families Atracidae, Idiopidae, and Theraphosidae). Many more quantitative investigations on the natural diets of tropical spiders are needed before reliable conclusions on the importance of frogs as spider food can be drawn.

Martin Nyffeler and Ronald Altig "Spiders as frog-eaters: a global perspective," The Journal of Arachnology 48(1), 26-42, (17 June 2020).
Received: 22 August 2019; Published: 17 June 2020
dart-poison frogs
nutritional importance
survival capability
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