Spider community responds to litter complexity: insights from a small-scale experiment in an exotic pine stand

Luciana Regina Podgaiski, Gilberto G Rodrigues


Conservation of biodiversity in production systems is an urgent need, and a suitable approach is the restoration of habitat complexity from large to more local spatial scales. Here we investigated the value of increasing litter complexity in tree plantations for spiders. We performed a litter manipulation experiment within an exotic pine stand with simplified litter layer, and observed that complex patches formed by different types of broadleaves benefited all colonizing spider families, including cursorial and web-builders. Densities of individuals and species were respectively 74.3% and 38.2% higher in complex substrate patches than in simple pine needles.  We discuss the main factors that could have influenced the spider’s microhabitat choice. Our results imply that ensuring some degree of plant and litter diversity within the stands (e.g. understory establishment, or mixing species) would foster spider aggregations and possibly help to conserve their diversity at local-scales.

Iheringia Série Zoologia

Museu de Ciências Naturais, Fundação Zoobotânica do Rio Grande do Sul

Rua Dr. Salvador França, 1427, 90690-000 Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil

E-mail: iheringia-zoo@fzb.rs.gov.br