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Habitat preferences of the urban wall spider Oecobius navus (Araneae, Oecobiidae)

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To assess the relative impact of a range of habitat variables on spider abundance, field and laboratory experiments were conducted on populations of the urban wall spider Oecobius navus in suburban Perth, Western Australia. Habitat characteristics investigated were: substrate type, wind speed, rainfall, sunlight exposure, relative humidity, air temperature, substrate temperature, artificial lighting and prey type/abundance. In the field, O. navus was found to be associated with high humidity, low air temperature and shelter from sunlight and rainfall. Oecobius navus was more abundant at sites with greater prey abundance. The most common prey item was the red meat ant Iridomyrmex chasei. Juvenile spiders were more abundant than adult spiders; however, patterns between spider abundance and habitat variables were similar for both adults and juveniles. Laboratory experiments showed that O. navus preferred to build webs on wooden substrates, and pitted limestone walls. These findings indicate that O. navus may be vulnerable to desiccation and/or thermal stress, and thus survives better on sheltered walls.
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Keywords: Araneae; Oecobiidae; biotic factors; habitat; prey abundance; spider abundance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Animal Biology M092, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia 2: Centre for Forensic Science M420, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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