Liming alters body size distribution in a community of epigeic spiders in birch forest (Betula pendula Roth)
Liming, an ameliorative method for acidified forest soils, affected the relative abundance of prey of ground-hunting spiders and consequently reduced densities of functionally similar species of these predators.
Liming, an ameliorative method for acidified forest soils, may modify the structure of an arthropod community by altering the soil characteristics and/or the availability of food resources.
We investigated the effect of liming on the community structure of ground-hunting spiders in a birch forest.
We established six experimental birch stand plots. Each stand was exposed to one of three experimental treatments: control, 1.5 t/ha, or 3 t/ha of dolomitic limestone. We collected spiders using pitfall traps during 5 years. We characterized the community in terms of activity density, species richness, community-weighted mean body size, and functional diversity and evenness in body size. We further investigated the potential links through which the liming might affect spiders, namely soil characteristics, effect of liming on birch, and densities of potential prey.
The commonly used dosage of 3 t/ha reduced densities of functionally similar species which led to the reduced functional evenness in body size and increased functional divergence in body size. Liming increased soil pH only slightly but decreased the densities of spiders’ preferred prey.
The liming affected the community of ground-hunting spiders, at least partially, through reduced densities of their preferred prey.
KeywordsAcidification Functional diversity Predator Soil
We would like to thank Stano Korenko, Lenka Sentenská, and Eva Líznarová for their help with the spider determination. We are grateful to Marco Isaia, the editors Aurélien Sallé and Erwin Dreyer, and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on the previous version of the manuscript.
This study was financially supported by the Internal Grant Agency of Mendel University (Reg. No. LDF_VT_2016002/2016) and by Netex Ltd., Děčín, Nadace ČEZ Co. in Prague, and Lafarge Cement Co. in Čížkovice.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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