, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1305-1334

Influence of habitat and microhabitat on epigeal spider (Araneae) assemblages in four stand types

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Abstract

Studies based on presence/absence of a species may provide insight into habitat associations, allowing the distribution of species to be predicted across the landscape. Our objective was to characterise the epigeal spider fauna in three mature boreal forest types (conifer, mixedwood and deciduous) and a disturbed habitat (clearcut) to provide baseline data on the spider species inhabiting major forest types of boreal northwestern Ontario, Canada. Only spring-active epigeal spiders were considered for logistical reasons. We further identified the coarse woody debris structure and microhabitat characteristics within these stand types to try to refine our ability to predict the within-stand occurrence of spiders. We found the clearcut habitat strongly dominated by the Lycosidae with 55% of spiders represented by a single species, Pardosa moesta Banks. The forested habitats were more diverse, with web-building families forming a large component of the fauna and many species represented by only a few individuals. The spider composition of the deciduous stands (aspen and mixedwood) was very similar, and distinct from that of spruce stands. Species such as Agroeca ornata (Emerton) (Liocranidae) and Pirata montanus Emerton (Lycosidae) were strongly associated with deciduous leaf litter. Within the spruce stands, Agyneta olivacea (Emerton) (Linyphiidae) and Pardosa uintana Gertsch (Lycosidae) were associated with feathermoss rather than Sphagnum microhabitats. Many of the habitat associations observed at Rinker Lake do not conform well to those described in the taxonomic literature as typical for the species. Few associations with coarse woody debris or microhabitat attributes (other than ground cover type) were found.