Date: 04 Apr 2014

The effect of thinning on ground spider diversity and microenvironmental factors of a subtropical spruce plantation forest in East Asia

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Abstract

Currently, information about the effect of forest management on biodiversity of subtropical plantation forests in Asia is quite limited. In this study, we compared the spider community structures and guild compositions of subtropical Cryptomeria japonica plantation forests receiving different degree of thinning (0, 25 and 50 %) in central Taiwan. The ground spider diversities and environmental variables were sampled/measured once every 3 months for 1 year before thinning and 2 years after thinning. Results showed that before thinning spider compositions did not differ significantly among three plantation forest types. Two years after thinning, spider species and family compositions of three plantation forest types differed significantly. In all three plantation forest types, the spider composition differed from year to year, indicating existence of temporal variations in spider diversity. Ground hunters (increased 200–600 % in thinned forests), sheet web weavers (increased 50–300 % in thinned forests) and space web weavers (decreased 30–50 % in thinned forests) were the major contributors of the observed spider composition differences among plantation forests receiving different treatments. The stands receiving thinning treatments also had higher illumination, litter decomposition rate, temperature and understory vegetation density. Thinning treatments might have changed the structures of understory vegetation and canopy cover and consequently resulted in abundance and diversity changes of these guilds. Moreover, the heterogeneity in understory vegetation recovery rate and temporal variation of spider composition might further generate spider diversity variations in subtropical forests receiving different degree of thinning.

Communicated by: Jörg Müller.