The impact of management strategies in apple orchards on the structural and functional diversity of epigeal spiders
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Apple orchards are agro-ecosystems managed with high levels of inputs and especially pesticides. Epigeal spider communities were sampled in three seasons using pitfall traps in 19 apple orchards with four different management strategies (abandoned, under organic, Integrated Pest Management or conventional protection) and thus significantly different pesticide usage. The abundance and diversity of the spider communities was the highest in abandoned orchards. Higher diversity and evenness values were the only difference in spider communities from the organic orchards compared to the other commercial orchards. The analysis of five ecological traits (proportion of aeronauts, type of diet, overwintering stages, body size and maternal care), however, clearly showed differences in the spiders from the organic orchards. The spider species in the other commercial orchards were smaller and have higher dispersal abilities. Seven bioindicator species were identified in abandoned orchards, two species in organic ones (only Lycosidae) and one species in conventional orchards (Linyphiidae).
KeywordsPesticides Organic Bioindicator species Ecological traits Dispersion
The authors warmly thanked the producers and owners for allowing them to sample spiders in their orchards. This study is dedicated to the memory of P. R., one of the producers, who committed suicide in 2012. The authors also wish to thank our colleagues participating in the BETSI project (funded by the French Foundation for Biodiversity) for valuable discussions on trait-based approaches.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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