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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LARGER: INTRASPECIFIC COMPETITION FOR PRIME WEB SITES IN ORB-WEB SPIDERS (ARANEAE, ARANEIDAE)

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The effects of two contrasting habitats on the distribution and the body condition of Larinioides sclopetarius (Clerck, 1757) were studied in an urban area. Throughout the season, significantly more spiders of all size classes were found in the prime habitat, which was characterised by the presence of artificial light and, consequently, a superabundance of prey. The higher food intake in the prime habitat also resulted in a better body condition of immature spiders. During periods of high spider density, small immatures were found more frequently than expected in the lower ranked habitat, which contained no artificial light and significantly less prey, while larger conspecifics exclusively foraged in the prime habitat. High females density in the prime habitat coincided with decreasing density and decreasing territory sizes of smaller immatures.

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