Gradient analysis of spider communities in a streamside forest
- Cite this article as:
- Uetz, G.W. Oecologia (1976) 22: 373. doi:10.1007/BF00345314
Species composition and diversity of a guild of wandering spiders was studied by pitfall trapping over an elevational gradient in an Illinois streamside forest. Differences in flooding frequency and their effect on the litter habitat (removal and/or compression) account for a majority of the variation in the number of species between elevations. Changes in spider communities with elevation over the flooding gradient are indicative of a transition from a harsh to a moderate environment: (1) increased abundance and species diversity; (2) decreased dominance of flood tolerant species accompanied by increased dominance of species with specialized microhabitats found in complex litter; (3) greater similarity in species composition between sites; and, (4) a change in species-abundance curves from a geometric series to a lognormal distribution. The influence of the flooding regime in regulating community structure of spiders is discussed. A multiple regression equation including flood frequency and litter depth as variables was used to predict the impact of altered flooding regimes (due to reservoir construction downstream) on spider diversity.