, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 215–221

Cursorial spiders and succession: age or habitat structure?


  • L. E. Hurd
    • Ecology Program, School of Life SciencesUniversity of Delaware
  • W. F. Fagan
    • Ecology Program, School of Life SciencesUniversity of Delaware
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00317367

Cite this article as:
Hurd, L.E. & Fagan, W.F. Oecologia (1992) 92: 215. doi:10.1007/BF00317367


The structure of cursorial spider assemblages was examined along a gradient of four temperature successional communities. Species diversity (H′), richness (S), and evenness (J′) exhibited a dichotomy between herbaceous and woody communities rather than a progressive change with community age: all three parameters were higher in the two younger fields than in the two older woodlands, which is contrary to conventional successional theory. Species importance curves were steeper in the two woody communities. The breadth of the distribution of adult body lengths was greater in the two herbaceous communities. Indices of community similarity revealed neither a successional trend nor the vegetative dichotomy. We suggest the hypothesis that habitat structure is a more important determinant of cursorial spider diversity than successional age per se, and that the switch in dominance from herbaceous to woody vegetation is the critical change. We further suggest that competition for prey is more important to cursorial spiders in early successional (herbaceous) communities, because of a switch in the limiting resource from prey in these communities to the amount of accumulating litter (a spatial resource) in older woody stands. This may explain the greater variation in adult body size of these generalist predators in the two younger communities.

Key words

Cursorial spidersSuccessionSpecies diversityCommunity structurePredator assemblages

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992