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1 November 2008 An Ontogenetic Shift in Habitat Use by the Neotropical Tarantula Ephebopus murinus (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae)
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Abstract

We studied the structure and placement of retreats of the tarantula Ephebopus murinus (Walckenaer, 1837) in the field in French Guiana. We found that early-instar spiderlings construct above-ground silken tubular retreats among low vegetation, and shifted to a fossorial lifestyle when subadult. Discriminant analysis of microhabitat variables associated with each class of retreat demonstrated that each was predicted by different habitat features. The location of above-ground retreats was predicted by the presence of the terrestrial bromeliad Bromelia spp., whereas leaf-litter predicted the placement of the burrows. This is one of the few examples of an ontogenetic habitat shift (OHS) in a spider. OHS has been suggested to fulfill an ecological function by reducing cannibalism and intraspecific competition. Ephebopus is a fossorial tarantula genus in an otherwise arboreal subfamily. Because of this we suggest that the fossorial lifestyle of subadult/adult E. murinus has evolved secondarily, with the arboreal habit of the early instars reflecting the ancestral habit. This would be a case where phylogeny, and not ecology, explains OHS.

Samuel D. Marshall and Rick West "An Ontogenetic Shift in Habitat Use by the Neotropical Tarantula Ephebopus murinus (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae)," Arachnology 14(6), 280-284, (1 November 2008). https://doi.org/10.13156/arac.2011.14.6.280
Published: 1 November 2008
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