, Volume 13, Issue 11, pp 2119-2134

The importance of habitat productivity, stability and heterogeneity for spider species richness in coastal grey dunes along the North Sea and its implications for conservation

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In this contribution, we report on patterns of spider species richness in large complexes of coastal grey dunes of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Since grey dunes are considered a priority in Annex I of the EU Habitat Directive, conservation needs attention. Spider diversity is determined by the amount of nutrients available in grey dune patches. The richness of specific xerotherm species, however, is dependent only on the distance of the patches to the sea. Earlier investigation revealed that the richness of these species depends on the patch size. Since coastal dune management aims to focus on the conservation of dune-specific and xerotherm species, patch enlargement and grey dune restoration should receive priority attention and not internal grey dune management. Total spider richness and diversity is hence related to the functioning of the grey dune ecosystem. Eolic dynamics act as typical disturbance factors and are negatively related to species richness, as a result of the low but significant covariation with nutrient availability. The intermediate disturbance hypothesis is not applicable for spider diversity in grey dunes, possibly due to the narrow range of investigated environmental variation.