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Jumping spiders (Salticidae) enhance the seed production of a plant with extrafloral nectaries

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Many plants secrete nectar from extrafloral nectaries (EFNs), specialized structures that usually attract ants which can act as plant defenders. We examined the nectar-mediated interactions between Chamaecrista nictitans (Caesalpineaceae) and jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae) for 2 years in old fields in New Jersey, USA. Previous research suggests that spiders are entirely carnivorous, yet jumping spiders (Eris sp. and Metaphidippus sp.) on C. nictitans collected nectar in addition to feeding on herbivores, ants, bees, and other spiders. In a controlled-environment experiment, when given a choice between C. nictitans with or without active EFNs, foraging spiders spent 86% of their time on plants with nectar. C. nictitans with resident jumping spiders did set significantly more seed than plants with no spiders, indicating a beneficial effect from these predators. However, the presence of jumping spiders did not decrease numbers of Sennius cruentatus (Bruchidae), a specialist seed predator of C. nictitans. Jumping spiders may provide additional, unexpected defense to plants possessing EFNs. Plants with EFNs may therefore have beneficial interactions with other arthropod predators in addition to nectar-collecting ants.

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Received: 27 May 1998 / Accepted: 23 December 1998

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Ruhren, S., Handel, S. Jumping spiders (Salticidae) enhance the seed production of a plant with extrafloral nectaries. Oecologia 119, 227–230 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050780

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  • Key words Extrafloral nectaries
  • Chamaecrista nictitans
  • Jumping spiders
  • Eris sp.
  • Metaphidippus sp.