Evidence for competition between carnivorous plants and spiders

David E. Jennings, James J. Krupa, Thomas R. Raffel, Jason R. Rohr


Several studies have demonstrated that competition between disparate taxa can be important in determining community structure, yet surprisingly, to our knowledge, no quantitative studies have been conducted on competition between carnivorous plants and animals. To examine potential competition between these taxa, we studied dietary and microhabitat overlap between pink sundews (Drosera capillaris) and wolf spiders (Lycosidae) in the field, and conducted a laboratory experiment examining the effects of wolf spiders on sundew fitness. In the field, we found that sundews and spiders had a high dietary overlap with each other and with the available arthropod prey. Associations between sundews and spiders depended on spatial scale: both sundews and spiders were found more frequently in quadrats with more abundant prey, but within quadrats, spiders constructed larger webs and located them further away from sundews as the total sundew trapping area increased, presumably to reduce competition. Spiders also constructed larger webs when fewer prey were available. In the laboratory, our experiment revealed that spiders can significantly reduce sundew fitness. Our findings suggest that members of the plant and animal kingdoms can and do compete.


    • Received March 4, 2010.
    • Accepted April 22, 2010.
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