Spiders in Bird Diet?


First, a big thank you to the members of this group that generated interest for the Arachnology Network to exist. Some entomologists find it funny that, although our field specifically states "the science of insects", more often than not we are required by the public to be knowledgeable about all arthropods, regardless of how many legs they have.

There's been a few papers that have highlighted the importance of spiders in bird diet (Wiens and Rotenberry 1979 being one of the oldest and most cited examples), and, in fact, many online resources mention that birds will eat (among insects and the occasional pill bug) spiders. However, I've had difficulty finding resources that mention what kind of spiders are vulnerable to bird predation, that is, what family or species of spiders are being incorporated into bird diet?

Given that arthropods provide a vital resource to food webs, I feel it is important for us to get a better idea that we know what exactly that resource is. What information is present in the literature about spider habitat shows that the requirements of spiders varies by taxa, which may suggest that if we have disturbances in the environment (changes in climate, changes in land use, biological invasion, or combinations of the three that can produce novel effects), different species of spiders may respond differently. Knowing what species or family provides ecosystem services to other trophic levels can help us attempt to conserve linkages in the food web.

Has anyone read any articles or had observations on what taxa of spiders tend to be eaten by vertebrates? What are your thoughts?

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