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Contrasting responses of arable spiders to the landscape matrix at different spatial scales

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Abstract Aim 

Animal communities can be influenced by the composition of the surrounding landscape through immigration. Depending on habitat preferences, however, the effect of the landscape matrix can be positive or negative and can vary with scale. We tested this idea with arable spiders and tried to infer dispersal distances from relationships between local density and landscape composition at different spatial scales. Location 

Thirty-eight landscapes around the cities of Göttingen and Giessen, Germany. Methods 

Spiders were captured with pitfall traps in one field of winter wheat in each landscape. Landscape composition around the fields was characterized at 11 scales from 95 m to 3 km radius by land-use mapping and subsequent GIS analysis. Correlation tests were performed between landscape composition and local densities or species richness. Results 

In both study regions, local species richness was enhanced by non-crop habitats on a landscape scale. The overall densities of wolf spiders (Lycosidae), long-jawed spiders (Tetragnathidae), crab spiders (Thomisidae), and dwarf sheet spiders (Hahniidae) increased significantly in landscapes with high percentages of non-crop habitats. Out of the 40 species tested, 19 responded positively to the percentage of non-crop habitats in the surrounding landscape, and five responded negatively. Depending on the species, the spatial scales with the highest explanatory power ranged from 95 m to 3 km radius around the study fields, potentially reflecting dispersal distances. Main conclusions 

Arable spider species showed contrasting responses to the landscape context with respect both to the direction and to the spatial scale of the relationship. The variation in landscape requirements among species ensures high spider densities in a wide range of situations, which contributes to ecosystem resilience. However, species richness of arable spiders depends on heterogeneous landscapes with high percentages of non-crop habitats.
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Keywords: Agriculture; Araneae; biodiversity; dispersal distance; landscape; mass effect; metacommunity; species richness; winter wheat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Agroecology, Georg-August University, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany 2: Community Ecology, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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