Date Approved

2007

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Cara Shillington, Supervising Instructor

Second Advisor

Dr. James L. VandenBosch, Honors Adviser

Abstract

The presence of spiders in terrestrial ecosystems has been studied extensively. Little is known, however, about the role of spiders in aquatic ecosystems, especially wetlands. The purpose of this study was to obtain a preliminary understanding of the spider community found in a local wetland, Paint Creek. Aerial and ground samples were collected along a 50-meter transect in a dense stand of native Typha angustifolia. Samples were taken monthly from May to September, and were analyzed for both species composition and plant biomass. Initial findings indicate that spider communities in wetlands are highly variable. Ground samples yielded the largest number of individuals, high plant biomass yielded high species composition, and all variables changed with season. Overall, the family Lycosidae exhibited the highest abundance, followed by Clubionidae. Unexpectedly, the family Tetragnathidae exhibited the least number of individuals collected over the five month period. Continued sampling is needed to further understand the complex dynamics of spider communities in wetland habitats.

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