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Young stages of the wolf spiders Pardosa moesta and P. mackenziana coexist on the forest floor in a deciduous forest in central Alberta, yet nothing is known of the potential interactions between and among these ubiquitous species. An experiment, using a series of 0.25- m2 arenas, was designed to test for inter- and intraspecific exploitative competition. Experimental treatments were established in the arenas in late July. Treatments involved stocking recently hatched spiderlings of each species alone, and with both species together at natural (10 spiderlings per arena) and two times the natural densities. In September the arenas were searched for Pardosa spiderlings, and the survival and mass gain of each species were determined. Other predatory arthropods, and Collembola, a common prey of young wolf spiders, were counted in the arenas before the experimental treatments were established and at the end of the experiment. No evidence for competitive interactions was uncovered, but spiderling survival was 29% for P. moesta and 20% for P. mackenziana, suggesting other mortality factors (e.g., cannibalism, intraguild predation) may be important. Top-down effects (predatory arthropods) had no effect on Pardosa survival. Bottom-up effects, however, were significant as treatments containing spiderlings had fewer Collembola compared to control arenas, further supporting the importance of spiders in leaf-litter food webs.
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