Legs off! A marsupial could be eating spiders to keep food for itself

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

A small desert marsupial - the lesser hairy-footed dunnart - could be eating wolf spiders so they don't eat the dunnart's prey, according to Aussie research. The authors say the two species compete for the same food, and dunnarts eat wolf spiders more often than just by chance. After tracking the two species over a few months, they think this could be the first recorded case of a species eating its competitor in animals as different as marsupials and spiders.

Journal/conference: Royal Society Open Science

DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171872

Organisation/s: The University of Sydney

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Assessing the potential for intraguild predation among taxonomically disparate micro-carnivores: marsupials and arthropods 

For the first time, we present evidence that competition and intraguild predation may be occurring between taxa as disparate as marsupials and spiders. Despite small sample sizes, major overlap (>75% similarity) was found in diet and temporal activity, and moderate overlap in microhabitat use between wolf spiders (<i>Lycosa</i> spp.) and the lesser hairy-footed dunnart (<i>Sminthopsis youngsoni</i>). This study represents a new and unique insight into the intricacies of complex desert ecological interactions and has the potential to represent the most taxonomically disparate example of intraguild predation that has been reported.

Attachments:

  • The Royal Society
    Web page
    Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live when the embargo lifts).

News for:

Australia
NSW

Multimedia:

  • Wolf spider, Simpson Desert south-west Queensland.
    Wolf spider, Simpson Desert south-west Queensland.

    File size: 3.1 MB

    Attribution: Tamara Potter

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 02 May 2018 9:19am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Lesser hairy-footed dunnart
    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart

    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni), a small carnivorous marsupial found in the Simpson Desert, south-west Queensland.

    File size: 219.9 KB

    Attribution: Tamara Potter

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 02 May 2018 9:19am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Wolf spider found in the Simpson Desert.
    Wolf spider found in the Simpson Desert.

    File size: 4.4 MB

    Attribution: Tamara Potter

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 02 May 2018 9:19am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Lesser hairy-footed dunnart eating a grasshopper
    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart eating a grasshopper

    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni) eating a grasshopper. These small marsupials have sharp teeth which they use to eat spiders (in particular wolf spiders) and other insects.

    File size: 2.7 MB

    Attribution: Tamara Potter

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 02 May 2018 9:19am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Lesser hairy-footed dunnart held in a calico bag after being processed
    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart held in a calico bag after being processed

    Lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni) held in a calico bag after being processed. This involves weighing each individual, identifying whether it is male or female and if it is a female, checking to see if any pouch young are present.

    File size: 2.4 MB

    Attribution: Tamara Potter

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 02 May 2018 9:19am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

Show less
Show more

Media contact details for this story are only visible to registered journalists.