Faculté des sciences

Direct and indirect bottom-up and top-down forces shape the abundance of the orb-web spider Argiope bruennichi

Bruggisser, Odile T ; Sandau, Nadine ; Blandenier, Gilles ; Fabian, Yvonne ; Kehrli, Patrik ; Aebi, Alex ; Naisbit, Russell E ; Bersier, Louis-Félix

In: Basic and Applied Ecology, 2012, vol. 13, no. 8, p. 706-714

Species abundance in local communities is determined by bottom-up and top-down processes, which can act directly and indirectly on the focal species. Studies examining these effects simultaneously are rare. Here we explore the direct top-down and direct and indirect bottom-up forces regulating the abundance and predation success of an intermediate predator, the web-building spider Argiope... More

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    Summary
    Species abundance in local communities is determined by bottom-up and top-down processes, which can act directly and indirectly on the focal species. Studies examining these effects simultaneously are rare. Here we explore the direct top-down and direct and indirect bottom-up forces regulating the abundance and predation success of an intermediate predator, the web-building spider Argiope bruennichi (Araneae: Araneidae). We manipulated plant diversity (2, 6, 12 or 20 sown species) in 9 wildflower strips in a region of intensive farmland. To identify the major factors regulating the distribution and abundance of A. bruennichi, we quantified three characteristics of vegetation (species diversity, composition and vegetation structure) as well as the spider's prey community and natural enemies. The distribution and abundance of A. bruennichi was regulated by combined bottom-up and top-down processes as well as by direct and indirect interactions between trophic levels. Four main factors were identified: (1) the strong direct effect of vegetation structure, (2) the positive effect of plant species diversity, which affected spider abundance directly and indirectly through increased densities and size of flower-visiting prey species, (3) the positive or negative direct effects of different plant species, and (4) the strongly negative direct effect of predacious hornets. The advantage of taking a global approach to understand the regulation of species abundance is highlighted first by the quantification of the relative importance of factors, with a surprisingly strong effect of hornet predators, and second by the discovery of a direct effect of plant diversity, which raises intriguing questions about habitat selection by this spider.