Deciphering a potentially hyperdiverse diet of wandering spider,
(Phoneutria boliviensis; Araneae: Ctenidae) by DNA metabarcoding of gut
Arachnids are the most abundant land predators. Despite the importance
of their functional roles as predators and the of necessity to
understand their diet for conservation and nutrient fluxes, the trophic
ecology of many arachnid species is not fully understood. In the case of
the wandering spider, Phoneutria boliviensis F. O. Pickard-Cambridge,
1897, only selected field and laboratory observational studies about
their diet exist. By using a DNA metabarcoding approach, we compared the
prey found in the gut content of males and females from three distant
Colombian populations of P. boliviensis. By DNA metabarcoding of the
cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI), we detected and identiﬁed 234 prey
records belonging to 96 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), as prey for
this wandering predator. Our results broaden the known diet of P.
boliviensis with at least 75 prey taxa not previously registered in
fieldwork or laboratory experimental trials. These results suggest that
P. boliviensis feeds predominantly on invertebrates (Diptera,
Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Orthoptera) and opportunistically on small
squamates. Intersex and interpopulation differences are observed.
Assuming that prey preference does not vary between populations, these
differences are likely associated with a higher local prey availability.
Finally, we suggest that DNA metabarcoding can be used for evaluating
subtle differences in the diet of distinct populations of P.
boliviensis, particularly when predation records in the field cannot be
established or quantified using direct observation