Zeana Ganem

I am a Ph.D. student at the National Arachnid Collection, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, working on the “Evolution of predation-specialization in the woodlouse hunter spiders (Araneae, Dysderidae): Evidence from morphology, behavior and gut contents” advised by Dr. Efrat Gavish-Regev and Dr. Dror Hawlena

In this research I will focus on various aspects related to the evolution of predatory strategies of
woodlouse hunter spiders (Araneae, Dysderidae). The Dysderidae family includes 570 recognized
species around the globe, belonging to 24 genera. Six species have been reported from Israel, and
belong to two subfamilies Dysderinae and Harpactinae. The Israel National Arachnid Collection at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, houses additional species that were collected from
Israel, but have yet to be reported, in addition to a number of species that are new to science.

Spiders are generalist predators, however several species prefer a specific prey. For example, spiders
belonging to the genus Zodarion Walckenaer,1826 (Zodariidae), feed on ants, while most spider
species avoid preying on ants. The spider family Dysderidae includes species that specialize in preying
upon Isopoda. For instance, spiders of the Dysderinae subfamily, found in Israel, are considered
generalist predators, however, researchers have been found that different species use different
predation strategies for different types of prey and that there is a relationship between the degree of
their specialization and the shape of their mouth-parts – the Chelicera.

This research will aim at understanding the predation specialization amongst species of the Dysderidae
family. The research is expected to provide fundamental knowledge for understanding the evolution of the predation specialization amongst predators of particular importance in hypogean and epigean habitats – the Dysderidae family. This information will shed light on the part played by habitat and predationecology on speciation, as compared to other evolutionary processes.

I have a B.A. in Science Education. I am a teacher and instructor for scientific research for primary and secondary school children at The Ecological Greenhouse in Kibbutz En Shemer.

I have M.A. from the University of Haifa, in Natural Resources and Environmental Management (research was conducted at the National Arachnid Collection)

My master thesis was on “Spider Assemblages of Vineyard Agroecosystem”, advised by Dr. Moshe Gish, Dr. Efrat Gavish-Regev and Prof. Yael Lubin .

Research shows that the conventional approach for pest control, which is mainly based on spraying chemical pesticides, harm not only the pests but also their local natural enemies (predators and parasites), and thus reduce the capability of the pest’s natural enemies to regulate their populations. On the other hand a combination of chemical and biological pest control and other methods supports diverse assemblages of natural enemies.

Among the local natural enemies at vineyards, spiders are playing an important role in regulating pest populations that may carry or transmit plant diseases. There is a lack of information in Israel regarding the effects of  agricultural management on spiders and other natural enemies in vineyards.

Monitoring of vineyard’s Biodiversity at Qedesh valley in Israel revealed that Araneae is the species-richest arachnid order, and that together with the parasitoids form the majority of natural enemies in the vineyard (Harari et al. 2016).

  My research project tested the effect of the agricultural practice and the distance from the natural habitat on the spider assemblage composition and species richness.