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Nutrient specific foraging and the role of spiders as biocontrol agents

Cuff, Jordan Patrick 2020. Nutrient specific foraging and the role of spiders as biocontrol agents. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

Spiders help farmers by eating pests like aphids. We don’t, however, understand how spiders choose what they eat. To make best use of spiders in farms, we must first study their dietary choices. In this thesis, we designed a new way of measuring how much carbohydrate, fat and protein is in small invertebrates. We also created new tools to help detect what spiders have eaten using DNA in their guts, which helped us find out that spiders eat different things before and after the cereal crops that they live in are harvested. Using the same tools, we looked into what 300 spiders had eaten and saw that what spiders eat changes over time and that, depending on the type of spider and its age, they eat different prey. We also found out that different spiders may be better at protecting farmers’ crops than others, particularly young spiders and two specific types of spider (Bathyphantes and Tenuiphantes). Using the new way of measuring the nutrients in spiders, we managed to group and rename the different prey that live near spiders based on what nutrients they have. We then saw that spiders eat groups of prey with different nutrients in them together to get a balanced diet, but that different spiders get their nutrients by eating different prey to one another. This is the first time that this has been shown in the wild and outside of a laboratory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 February 2021
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2021 10:17
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/138285

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