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Responses of ground-dwelling spider assemblages to changes in vegetation from wet oligotrophic habitats of Western France

Lafage, Denis, Djoudi, El Aziz, Perrin, Gwenhaël, Gallet, Sébastien, Pétillon, Julien
Arthropod-plant interactions 2019 v.13 no.4 pp. 653-662
Araneae, arthropods, bogs, functional diversity, grasslands, habitats, heathlands, linear models, phytosociology, pitfall traps, predators, shrubs, vegetation structure, France
While many arthropod species are known to depend, directly or indirectly, on certain plant species or communities, it remains unclear to what extent vegetation shapes spider assemblages. In this study, we tested whether the activity-density, composition, and diversity of ground-dwelling spiders were driven by changes in vegetation structure. Field sampling was conducted using pitfall traps in bogs, heathlands, and grasslands of Brittany (Western France) in 2013. A total of 8576 spider individuals were identified up to the species level (for a total of 141 species), as well as all plant species in more than 300 phytosociological relevés. A generalised linear model showed that spider activity-density was negatively influenced by mean vegetation height and mean Ellenberg value for moisture. Indices of diversity (ɑ, β, and functional diversities) increased with increasing vegetation height and shrub cover. Variables driving spider composition were mean vegetation height, dwarf shrub cover, and low shrub cover (results from a redundancy analysis). Spiders, some of the most abundant arthropod predators, are thus strongly influenced by vegetation structure, including ground-dwelling species. Although later successional states are usually seen as detrimental to local biodiversity in Europe, our results suggest that allowing controlled development of the shrub layer could have a positive impact on the diversity of ground-dwelling spiders.