The Neopilionidae is a highly diversified harvestman family in New Zealand, comprising eight genera and 28 species. Although individuals of many species are abundant in the field, basic information on their natural history is absent. Here we describe the diet, predators, and defensive behaviors of 13 species across three genera, Forsteropsalis Taylor, 2013, Mangatangi Taylor, 2013, and Pantopsalis Simon, 1879. Using three years of field observations, we first identify food items for this family, finding that New Zealand neopilionids are opportunistic, generalist foragers with a diet composed of a wide variety of prey and scavenged soft-bodied invertebrates, including worms, amphipods, species from nine orders of insects, and two orders of arachnids (including conspecifics). We then describe the first known invertebrate predators of New Zealand harvestmen, including seven spider species, and conduct a review of the literature to collate a list of 32 species of native and non-native vertebrates (frogs, lizards, fish, birds, and mammals) that prey on harvestmen, including neopilionids. Finally, we describe the defensive behaviors of neopilionids, providing the first reports of autotomy and thanatosis in the family. In general, the diet of New Zealand neopilionids is similar to other harvestman species, and the list of predators includes mostly insectivorous taxa known to feed on harvestmen elsewhere. The defensive repertoire of neopilionids includes behaviors recorded for other species of Eupnoi, such as leg autotomy, but also unique behaviors that are only known for species of Dyspnoi and Laniatores, such as thanatosis.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1