Urbanization and Spider Diversity: Influences of Human Modification of Habitat Structure and Productivity [chapter]

E. Shochat, W.L. Stefanov, M.E.A. Whitehouse, S.H. Faeth
Urban Ecology  
As a part of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project, we determined how land-use alteration influenced spider and harvestman diversity. We sampled spiders in six habitat types (desert parks, urban desert remnants, industrial, agricultural, xeric-and mesic-residential yards) and tested how habitat type and productivity affected spider diversity and abundance. As expected, agricultural fields and mesic yards were more productive than the other, xeric habitats. These more
more » ... productive habitats were characterized by higher abundances but lower spider diversity and were dominated by Lycosidae (wolf spiders), followed by Linyphiidae (sheet-web weavers). The increase in wolf spider abundance was positively correlated with habitat productivity and negatively correlated with the abundance of other predatory arthropods that might compete with, or prey upon, wolf spiders. Temporal changes in productivity affected spider abundance. After an El-Niñ o winter (May 1998), spider abundance was five times higher than after an extremely dry winter (May 2000). The differences in spider abundance between agricultural fields and the four xeric habitats were profound in 2000 but moderate in 1998, suggesting an interaction between the effects of natural and anthropogenic factors on spider populations. Compared with xeric habitats, the El-Niñ o effect was less profound in agricultural sites, suggesting that human land modification mollifies seasonal effects. We suggest that habitat structure and productivity alteration may change community structure, as the urban or agricultural habitats favor one or a few preadapted taxa over many others. Incorporation of large fragments of natural habitats into future landscape planning in urban environments may be important for conservation of rich spider communities.
doi:10.1007/978-0-387-73412-5_30 fatcat:rd5yfibwezhxfn5axqzcbmt3mu