Wolf spiders are top predators in the tundra. Their activity has cascading effects on belowground food webs, decomposition rates, and soil nutrients, but these effects are different under warmer-than-usual temperatures.
Climate Change Makes Spiders Bigger—And That’s a Good Thing
High temperatures make arctic wolf spiders ditch their favorite food, indirectly helping the environment.
The Arctic tundra is teeming with predators, just not the ones you might expect: By biomass, arctic wolf spiders outweigh arctic wolves by at least 80-to-1.
The eye-popping calculation, published today in PNAS by National Geographic explorer Amanda Koltz, could shape our understanding of how the Arctic will respond to future climate change.
Her study reveals that at increased temperatures and population densities, arctic wolf spiders change their eating habits, starting an ecosystem-wide cascade that could change how quickly melting permafrost decomposes.
Human activity, especially the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, is warming the planet—and the Arctic is getting hotter twice as fast as the rest of Earth.
The Arctic's heat-up is particularly worrisome because as the region warms, permafrost—a frozen