Artificial night light alters nocturnal prey interception outcomes for morphologically variable spiders.

Research paper by Suet Wai SW Yuen, Timothy C TC Bonebrake

Indexed on: 19 Dec '17Published on: 19 Dec '17Published in: PeerJ


Artificial night light has the potential to significantly alter visually-dependent species interactions. However, examples of disruptions of species interactions through changes in light remain rare and how artificial night light may alter predator-prey relationships are particularly understudied. In this study, we examined whether artificial night light could impact prey attraction and interception in Nephila pilipes orb weaver spiders, conspicuous predators who make use of yellow color patterns to mimic floral resources and attract prey to their webs. We measured moth prey attraction and interception responses to treatments where we experimentally manipulated the color/contrast of spider individuals in the field (removed yellow markings) and also set up light manipulations. We found that lit webs had lower rates of moth interception than unlit webs. Spider color, however, had no clear impact on moth interception or attraction rates in lit nor unlit webs. The results show that night light can reduce prey interception for spiders. Additionally, this study highlights how environmental and morphological variation can complicate simple predictions of ecological light pollution's disruption of species interactions.