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Spiders systematically trap amphibians in north-eastern Madagascar
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  • Thio Rosin Fulgence,
  • Dominic Andreas Martin,
  • Holger Kreft,
  • Fanomezana Mihaja Ratsoavina,
  • Aristide Andrianarimisa
Thio Rosin Fulgence
Zoology and Biodiversity of Animals, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Natural and Environmental Sciences, Regional University Centre of the SAVA Region (CURSA), Antalaha, Madagascar
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Dominic Andreas Martin
Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany
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Holger Kreft
Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany
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Fanomezana Mihaja Ratsoavina
Zoology and Biodiversity of Animals, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar
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Aristide Andrianarimisa
Zoology and Biodiversity of Animals, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar
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Abstract

Predation can take unexpected turns. For instance, various invertebrate species - most commonly spiders - may prey on tetrapods. Here, we report observations of spiders (Sparassidae, Olios sp.) preying on amphibians (Hyperoliidae, Heterixalus andrakata) in north-eastern Madagascar. To do so, the spiders built highly-specialized traps by weaving two leaves together. Four cases by different individuals of the same species show that spiders hide at the rear end of the trap. One case reports the feeding on a small frog caught inside the trap. Previous reports on amphibian predation by spiders describe opportunistic and indiscriminate predation behaviour by generalist ground-dwelling or aquatic spiders. The only more targeted cases concern large orb-weaver spiders building large webs that may serve as an effective trap for small vertebrates, but those only make up a small percentage of prey compared to insects. In contrast, the novel traps type reported here seems to be solely targeted at catching amphibians seeking shelter during the daytime. We thus report systematic trapping of amphibian by spiders, a newly recorded behaviour.