A Review of Spiders

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Bromeliad-Living Spiders Improve Host Plant Nutrition and Growth Mutualism has become an important area of research in ecology. Plant performance can be improved if organisms, such as ants or spiders, reduce the damage to floral tissues caused by phytophages. Most mutualistic relationships that have been studied focus on the influence certain organisms have on improving plant performance and the shelter/ food the plant provides in return. For example, the Cecropia tree is defended by colonies of Azteca ants. In return for the ants’ work, the Cecropia tree provides starch, shelter, and lipids. While these studies have increased our understanding of the nutritional benefits plants provide to their courageous inhabitants, they have failed to show us the nutritional benefits that plants gain from their defenders. In the study by Romero, Mazzafera, Vasconcellos-Neto, and Trivelin, the nutritional benefits provided by the Neotropical jumping spider, Pescas chapoda, to the Bromelia balansae are explored. The relationship between B. balansae and P. chapoda is quite unique. Spiders generally do not form strong partnerships with the plants on which they live. B. balansae is a terrestrial plant with a well-developed root system. It has leaves that form rosettes that contribute somewhat to nutrient uptake. These plants lack phytotelmata and are only able to accumulate some water near the bases of their rosettes. B. balansae contains trichome foliage, but its trichome foliage is incapable of absorbing most organic molecules. Thus, these plants rely on P. chapoda for nutrients. Neotropical jumping spiders live and breed almost exclusively on this bromeliad species. The plants benefit spiders by providing foraging, mating and egg-laying sites, shelter against predators and fire, and nurseries for spiderlings. The spiders, in return, provide the plant with feces, spider milk, prey carcasses, and exuviae. The researchers of this study wanted to look at whether...
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