It is known that the crab spiders forage in tropical pitcher plant cups for insect larvae. However, no experimental studies had been conducted until Trina Chua (Hons 2009/10) worked on aspects of this ecology for her honours year project, supervised by Matthew Lim.
Through in-situ and ex-situ experiments during her honours year, Trina’s research illustrates the aquatic foraging ability of the terrestrial red crab spider (Misumenops nepenthicola) as well as its ability to alter dipteran larval abundance (including those of mosquitoes) in the slender pitcher plant Nepenthes gracilis.
The results are amongst the first to reveal the influence of a terrestrial phytotelm forager on the abundance of pitcher organisms via direct predation. The yellow crab spider, Thomisus nepenthiphilus, however, did not appear to play such a role.
The paper was published online last week as: Chua, T. J. L. & M. L. M. Lim, 2011. Cross-habitat predation in Nepenthes gracilis: the red crab spider Misumenops nepenthicola influences abundance of pitcher dipteran larvae. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 28(01): 97-104.
Part of what Chua & Lim (2011) did for the field study.
Congratulations to them both! You can find out the details at the abstract page in the Journal of Tropical Ecology
Trina and her honours year project supervisor, Matthew Lim