The habitat preferences of Meta bourneti (Simon, 1922) (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) in the UK differ from populations in southern Europe.
Invasive species often expand their niche and broaden their habitat preferences when they colonize new areas. The cave orb spider Meta bourneti (Simon, 1922) is thought to be a relatively recent invasive species in the UK, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it might be found in a broader range of habitats in the UK than in its native range in southern Europe. In the present study, I investigate these claims, by first comparing the distribution and habitat preferences of M. bourneti to the more common cave orb spider Meta menardi (Latreille, 1804) in the UK using historic data from the UK Spider Recording Scheme. Second, I use data obtained mainly from published studies to compare M. bourneti populations in the UK with those from France, Italy, and Spain. The results confirm that the M. bourneti habitat preferences are significantly different from both M. menardi and from populations in southern Europe in that the UK populations are predominantly found in non-cave dark habitats such as under manhole covers, in culverts, and icehouses with only 11% of records coming from caves and mines. My results indicate that M. bourneti offers significant potential for further studies including citizen science projects since several observations were made in private gardens.