, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 401-406

Spider communities as tools in monitoring reclaimed limestone quarry landforms

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Abstract

Spider communities are sensitive to a wide range of environmental factors and are potential ecological indicators which may be effective in the assessment and monitoring of restored ecosystems. One restoration technique of disused limestone quarry faces, landform replication, attempts to create landforms and ecosystems similar to those found on natural dalesides. Vegetation surveys indicate that communities developing on landform replications are more closely allied to natural dalesides than are those of naturally recolonised disused quarries. Assessment of the spider communities of three landform replication sites, a natural limestone daleside and seven naturally recolonised disused limestone quarries, using DECORANA and TWINSPAN, produced differing patterns of sites than those observed through the assessment of the vegetation communities. DECORANA assessment based on vascular plant species composition highlights the similarities between daleside and reclaimed site communities. The sensitivity of spider communities to vegetation structure and extent of bare ground highlights differences between sites and provides evidence of important differences in vegetation community development particularly in relation to cover and structure. Implications for the assessment of reclamation and restoration techniques are discussed.