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Spider community responses to grassland restoration: balancing trade‐offs between abundance and diversity
- Smith DiCarlo, Lauren A., DeBano, Sandra J.
- Restoration ecology 2019 v.27 no.1 pp. 210-219
- Araneae, annuals, arid grasslands, arid lands, biological soil crusts, chronosequences, community structure, ecosystem services, ecosystems, grasses, grassland restoration, habitats, invasive species, monitoring, predators, species richness, United States
- Spiders (Araneae) play key roles in ecosystems, not only as common and abundant generalist predators, but also as major contributors to biodiversity in many areas. In addition, due to their short generation times and high mobility, spiders respond rapidly to small changes in their environment, potentially making them useful indicators for restoration monitoring. However, few studies have focused on spider responses to grassland restoration in the United States. We compared degraded, native, and restored grassland sites to examine how spider communities and habitat respond to arid grassland restoration. We also examined how responses varied with the age of the restoration project. Spider communities in native sites differed from those in restored and degraded sites in several ways: native sites had fewer spiders and a different community composition than degraded and restored sites. However, native and restored sites had more species than degraded sites. Chronosequence data showed trends for lower abundance, higher species richness, and changing community composition as restoration projects mature. Several habitat variables were closely linked to variation in spider communities including cover of invasive annual grasses, litter, and biological soil crusts. Our data suggest that spider and vegetation responses to grassland restoration efforts can be successful in the long term—with resulting communities becoming more similar to native ones—and that spiders are useful indictors of grassland restoration. Our results also suggest that restoration may involve balancing trade‐offs between ecosystem services, with potential losses in predatory control offset by increases in biodiversity with restoration effort.