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Title: The ecology of grassland spiders
Author: Gunn, A.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 1973
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An area of Holcus and Dactylis dominated grassland was sampled with reference to the distribution of the spider population of both the field and ground layer plants. Beating, sweeping and Dietrick suction sampling were used to estimate the numbers of spiders in the field layer and the aerial section of the ground layer. Transect quadrats revealed the position and numbers of spiders in and on the surface of the grass-litter. Seasonal movements of some species in and out of the litter were described as were the seasonal patterns of activity in the litter by the use of pitfall traps. The three groups of activity pattern with peaks of activity in early summer, or winter, or all year round, showed a correspondance with the ratio of male to female spiders. Some further correspondance was found between the structural vegetative features of the traps and their catches of individual species. The relationship between vegetation and a few species' distribution was examined in detail. The role that relative humidity and the structural components of the vegetation might play in distribution was examined experimentally and the results were discussed in the context of field observations of distribution. The potential prey as caught in sticky traps and pitfall traps, and the actual prey taken from spiders' webs were described in four groups based on structural characters that would influence their catchability and choice as potential prey. Laboratory experiments were used to examine the palatability of some prey and the size range within which the spiders would take prey. Some of the observations on prey and spider distribution in terms of the use of the space in the habitat were used to suggest there may be one regulatory mechanism for the field layer web spiders, and another for the nonweb ground layer spider populations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available