Data from: Multichannel feeding by spider functional groups is driven by feeding strategies and resource availability
Cite this dataset
Perkins, Matthew J.; Inger, Richard; Bearhop, Stuart; Sanders, Dirk (2017). Data from: Multichannel feeding by spider functional groups is driven by feeding strategies and resource availability [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f866r
Multichannel feeding, whereby consumers feed across resource channels such as upon herbivore and detritivore resources, acts to link discrete compartments of a food web with implications for ecosystem functioning and stability. Currently however, we have little understanding which feeding strategies of consumers underlie multichannel feeding. We therefore link spider functional group and resource density-dependent or density-independent feeding strategies to multichannel feeding by quantifying not only consumer diet, but also the relative availability of resources. Here we analysed herbivore (green) and detritivore (brown) prey use by spider communities in grasslands, and tested if available prey biomass proportions were linked to observed spider dietary proportions. Different spider functional groups each linked green and brown resource channels, but while green prey were always consumed in proportion to their relative biomass, brown prey were consumed independently of proportion by some functional groups. Additionally, we found greater intraguild predation by cursorial spiders when green resources were relatively scarcer, suggesting green prey was preferred, and needed to be compensated for when rare. Overall, we observed a stronger consumer connection to the green than brown resource channel, yet this green connection was more variable due to greater range in green resource availability across grasslands and density-dependent consumption on green prey. Consequently, multichannel feeding by spiders was determined by density-dependent and density-independent feeding strategies that varied by spider functional group and across resources channels. Our results demonstrate that the role of multichannel feeding by spiders in linking separate food web compartments is a dynamic component of food web structure in these wild grasslands.