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There are over 100,000 described species of arachnids in the world; these include spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, etc. There are some 45,000 described species of spiders worldwide, with 3,800 species known from within the United States. Spiders can be classified into several guilds, including sensing web weavers, sheet web weavers, space web weavers, orb web weavers, specialists, ambush hunters, and ground hunters. A guild for spiders is defined as a group of spiders that exploit similar resources using similar behaviors in the same habitat. We are interested in assessing the spiders that are obligatory leaf litter dwellers – these are spiders that spend their entire lives within the tight spaces of the forest floor leaf litter. These spiders, as adults are extremely small, 1-3 mm in length, and only occur in a habitat that is largely ignored by most arachnologists. Therefore, for this project, we are interested in assessing the biodiversity of spiders that are obligatory leaf litter inhabitants. Obligatory leaf litter spiders may represent an ignored guild of spiders. To date, we have identified 13 families of leaf litter dwelling spiders, but only five families we consider obligatory leaf litter inhabitants. These include spiders from the families Cybaeidae, Gnaphosidae, Liocranidae, Lycosidae, and Salticidae. We are only examining mature male and female spiders since these are most likely obligatory leaf litter dwellers. The most abundant families include both Liocranidae and Lycosidae, with Salticidae and Gnaphosidae being the least abundant.

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Obligatory Leaf Litter Spiders: An Ignored Guild?



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