Fellowship for Leslie Potts: Winter Warming Effects On Spiders As Biological Control Agents

Grants and Contracts Details


In temperate environments, climate change is expected to have devastating impacts on the winter season, causing increased daily temperatures, temperature variation, and occurrence of extreme weather events. Winter warming can have positive impacts on arthropod pest populations by extending their growing season and habitable ranges; and negative impacts on natural enemies by reducing overwintering survival. These decrease the effectiveness of natural enemies, causing reduced plant production and ecosystem functioning. Overwintering success of natural enemies must be investigated to determine their ability to suppress pests during the winter, and subsequent growing season. Spiders are a common generalist predator in a variety of ecosystems, with 15% remaining active throughout the winter. These spiders fill a niche in late-winter, early-spring predation when some pests have become active, but specialist predators have not. This research focuses on a wolf spider (Schizocosa stridulans), investigating the impact of winter warming on their abilities as biological control agents. Objectives are to investigate physiological effects of winter warming on spiders and impacts of prey community composition shifts throughout the season. This work will be conducted by the PD, with help from undergraduate researchers under the advisement of Dr. Nicholas Teets. This project is submitted under the bioenergy, natural resources and environment program. It addresses the goals of this program by understanding the role of spiders as biological control agents in order to preserve natural resources and promote functioning ecosystems in the environment. This project also allows the PD to teach and mentor undergraduates to reach her career goals.
Effective start/end date3/15/183/14/21


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $95,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.