Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water Webs: Connecting Spiders, Residents In The Southwest

Date:
July 17, 2009
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
If you are a cricket and it is a dry season on the San Pedro River in Arizona, on your nighttime ramblings to eat leaves, you are more likely to be ambushed by thirsty wolf spiders. A potential horror story for any cricket. However, it is also a tale of water limitation that looks beyond how most ecosystem studies are considered.

During a dry season in riparian areas, thirsty wolf spiders hunt crickets more aggressively.
Credit: Kevin McCluney/Arizona State University

If you are a cricket and it is a dry season on the San Pedro River in Arizona, on your nighttime ramblings to eat leaves, you are more likely to be ambushed by thirsty wolf spiders, or so a June 19 study suggests, published in the journal Ecology, and featured as an editor's choice in the journal Science.

A potential horror story for any cricket. However, it is also a tale of water limitation that looks beyond how most ecosystem studies are considered. Much current work about the relationships between predators and prey is based on nutrients or energy limitation – via a food web.

The research, performed by graduate student Kevin McCluney and associate professor John Sabo in School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, demonstrates that under restricted water conditions, crickets consume more moist green leaves and wolf spiders more crickets. This distinct increase is driven by water limitation and the connectivity between organisms based on water – a water web.

With water the key ingredient to life, especially in the desert, why the focus on crickets and spiders and water webs? Studies on insects and riparian ecosystems such as these lend specific insights into how arid and semi-arid environments and their flora and fauna may be specifically affected by global climate change.

The authors note: "Water seems to be the ecological currency governing consumption behavior at multiple trophic levels, which indicates a role for water in understanding effects of global change on animal communities."

This article coincides with the June 18 release of the national report "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," funded by the National Science and Technology Council and authored by members of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, including ASU professor Nancy Grimm. The report contains a special section on the Southwest. Major changes in soil moisture and precipitation are expected as a result of climate change. McCluney and Sabo's study highlights one way ecological communities may be affected.

"Kevin's experiments suggest that by understanding water webs, we can find clues about how biodiversity may change as our region experiences drier climates under climate change," adds Sabo.

In that way, this study of crickets and spiders offers a looking glass into a future that extend much farther than the banks of one of the last undammed perennial rivers in the Southwest and the vibrant riparian community it supports.

"Drylands constitute more than one third of the land mass on Earth," McCluney notes. "While further testing is needed, our study may have implications for other ecosystems in light of recent reports of droughts and rivers drying up globally."

In addition to examining the water ties that bind inhabitants of terrestrial systems, Sabo and his students also examine aquatic ecosystems and the effects of human activity and water policy in the Southwest. In 2008, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Sabo launched a series of workshops to examine the impacts of dams on waterways in the United States held at the National Center for Ecological Synthesis and Analysis at University of California, Santa Barbara. Participants are working to define the ecological footprint that dams have had on water quantity and quality, the number of native and non-native species in rivers, the salinity of soils in some of the most productive agricultural areas, and the demand for irrigated water by the 100 largest cities in the United States. Along with studies by his ASU colleagues in the Global Institute of Sustainability and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, such as Juliet Stromberg, author of "The Ecology and Conservation of the San Pedro," Sabo seeks to illuminate the complexity of relationships behind developing sustainable management of water resources for both human and biodiversity needs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "Water Webs: Connecting Spiders, Residents In The Southwest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165112.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2009, July 17). Water Webs: Connecting Spiders, Residents In The Southwest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165112.htm
Arizona State University. "Water Webs: Connecting Spiders, Residents In The Southwest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629165112.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins