Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 2311–2322 | Cite as

Big and aerial invaders: dominance of exotic spiders in burned New Zealand tussock grasslands

  • Jagoba Malumbres-OlarteEmail author
  • Barbara I. P. Barratt
  • Cor J. Vink
  • Adrian M. Paterson
  • Robert H. Cruickshank
  • Colin M. Ferguson
  • Diane M. Barton
Original Paper


As post-disturbance community response depends on the characteristics of the ecosystem and the species composition, so does the invasion of exotic species rely on their suitability to the new environment. Here, we test two hypotheses: exotic spider species dominate the community after burning; and two traits are prevalent for their colonisation ability: ballooning and body size, the latter being correlated with their dispersal ability. We established spring burn, summer burn and unburned experimental plots in a New Zealand tussock grassland area and collected annual samples 3 and 4 years before and after the burning, respectively. Exotic spider abundance increased in the two burn treatments, driven by an increase in Linyphiidae. Indicator analysis showed that exotic and native species characterised burned and unburned plots, respectively. Generalised linear mixed-effects models indicated that ballooning had a positive effect on the post-burning establishment (density) of spiders in summer burn plots but not in spring plots. Body size had a positive effect on colonisation and establishment. The ability to balloon may partly explain the dominance of exotic Linyphiidae species. Larger spiders are better at moving into and colonising burned sites probably because of their ability to travel longer distances over land. Native species showed a low resilience to burning, and although confirmation requires longer-term data, our findings suggest that frequent fires could cause long lasting damage to the native spider fauna of tussock grasslands, and we propose limiting the use of fire to essential situations.


Ballooning Disturbance Fire management Recolonisation 



We are thankful to the staff and volunteers that helped collect and process the samples. Gwénaël Leday, Takayoshi Ikeda, James Ross, Richard Sedcole and Tasha Shelby provided advice for and suggestions on the manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. JMO was advised and funded by the Miss E.L. Hellaby Indigenous Grasslands Research Trust and the Department of Ecology, Lincoln University; BIPB, CMF and DMB were funded by the Department of Conservation (Science Investigation No. 3667), and BIPB, CMF and DMB were jointly, and CJV partially funded by New Zealand’s Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (contract CO2X0501, the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) programme,

Supplementary material

10530_2014_666_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 44 kb)


  1. Baker HG (1974) The evolution of weeds. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 5:1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barratt BIP, Ferguson CM, Logan RAS, Barton D, Bell NL, Sarathchandra SU, Townsend Rl (2005) Biodiversity of indigenous tussock grassland sites in Otago, Canterbury and the central North Island of New Zealand I. The macroinvertebrate fauna. J R Soc N Z 35:287–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barratt BIP, Tozer PA, Wiedemer RL, Ferguson CM, Johnstone PD (2006) Effect of fire on microarthropods in New Zealand indigenous grassland. Rangel Ecol Manag 59:383–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barratt BIP, Ferguson CM, Barton DM, Johnstone PD (2009) Impact of fire on tussock grassland invertebrate populations. Science for Conservation 291, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand, 75 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Barratt BIP, Worner SP, Affeld K, Ferguson CM, Barton DM, Bell NL, Townsend RJ (2012) Biodiversity of indigenous tussock grassland sites in Otago, Canterbury and the Central North Island of New Zealand VI. Coleoptera biodiversity, community structure, exotic species invasion, and the effect of disturbance by agricultural development. J R Soc N Z 42:217–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bednarski J, Ginsberg H, Jakob EM (2009) Competitive interactions between a native spider (Frontinella communis, Araneae: linyphiidae) and an invasive spider (Linyphia triangularis, Araneae: Linyphiidae). Biol Invasions 12:905–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bell JR, Bohan DA, Shaw EM, Weyman GS (2005a) Ballooning dispersal using silk: world fauna, phylogenies, genetics and models. Bull Entomol Res 95:69–114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bell NL, Davis LT, Sarathchandra SU, Barratt BIP, Ferguson CM, Townsend RJ (2005b) Biodiversity of indigenous tussock grassland sites in Otago, Canterbury and the central North Island of New Zealand II, Nematodes. J R Soc N Z 35:303–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blackburn TM, Duncan RP (2001) Determinants of establishment success in introduced birds. Nature 414:195–197PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bonte D, De Meester N, Matthysen E (2011) Selective integration advantages when transience is costly: immigration behaviour in an agrobiont spider. Anim Behav 81:837–841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brockerhoff EG, Barratt BIP, Beggs JR, Fagan LL, Kay MK, Phillips CB, Vink CJ (2010) Impacts of exotic invertebrates on New Zealand’s indigenous species and ecosystems. N Z J Ecol 34:158–174Google Scholar
  12. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Calder JA, Wilson JB, Mark AF, Ward G (1992) Fire, succession and reserve management in a New Zealand snow tussock grassland. Biol Conserv 62:35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Churchill TB (1997) Spiders as ecological indicators: an overview for Australia. Mem Mus Vic 56:331–337Google Scholar
  15. Coddington JA, Young LH, Coyle FA (1996) Estimating spider species richness in a Southern Appalachian cove hardwood forest. J Arachnol 24:111–128Google Scholar
  16. Colautti RI, Grigorovich IA, MacIsaac HJ (2006) Propagule pressure: a null model for biological invasions. Biol Invasions 8:1023–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Corbin JD, D’Antonio CM (2004) Competition between native perennial and exotic annual grasses: implications for an historical invasion. Ecology 85:1273–1283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis MA, Grime JP, Thompson K (2000) Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. J Ecol 88:528–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Didham RK, Tylianakis JM, Hutchinson MA, Ewers RM, Gemmell NJ (2005) Are invasive species the drivers of ecological change? Trends Ecol Evol 20:470–474PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Downie IS, Wilson WL, Abernethy VJ, McCracken DI, Foster GN, Ribera I, Murphy KJ, Waterhouse A (1999) The impact of different agricultural land-uses on epigeal spider diversity in Scotland. J Insect Conserv 3:273–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dufrêne M, Legendre L (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecol Monogr 67:345–366Google Scholar
  22. Eichenberger B, Siegenthaler E, Schmidt-Entling MH (2009) Body size determines the outcome of competition for webs among alien and native sheetweb spiders (Araneae: linyphiidae). Ecol Entomol 34:363–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Espie PR, Barratt BIP (2006) Biodiversity of indigenous tussock grassland sites in Otago, Canterbury and the central North Island of New Zealand IV. Vegetation and the effect of disturbance by agricultural development and fire. J R Soc N Z 35:69–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Foellmer MW, Marson M, Moya-Larano J (2011) Running performance as a function of body size, leg length, and angle of incline in male orb-web spiders, Argiope aurantia. Evol Ecol Res 13:513–526Google Scholar
  25. Fornwalt PJ, Kaufmann MR, Stohlgren TJ (2010) Impacts of mixed severity wildfire on exotic plants in a Colorado ponderosa pine–Douglas-fir forest. Biol Invasions 12:2683–2695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Forster RR (1979) The spiders of New Zealand. Part V. Cycloctenidae, Gnaphosidae, Clubionidae. Otago Mus Bull 5:1–95Google Scholar
  27. Forster RR, Wilton CL (1973) The spiders of New Zealand. Part IV. Agelenidae, Stiphidiidae, Amphinectidae, Amaurobiidae, Neolanidae, Ctenidae, Psechridae. Otago Mus Bull 4:1–309Google Scholar
  28. Forster RR, Millidge AF, Court DJ (1988) The spiders of New Zealand. Part VI. Otago Mus Bull 6:1–124Google Scholar
  29. Green RE (1997) The influence of numbers released on the outcome of attempts to introduce exotic bird species to New Zealand. J Anim Ecol 66:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hann SW (1990) Evidence for the displacement of an endemic New Zealand spider, Latrodectus katipo Powell by the South African species Steatoda capensis Hann (Araneae, Theridiidae). NZ J Zool 17:295–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hill AM, Sinars DM, Lodge DM (1993) Invasion of an occupied niche by the crayfish Orconectes rusticus: potential importance of growth and mortality. Oecologia 94:303–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hobbs R, Huenneke L (1992) Disturbance, diversity, and invasion: implications for conservation. Conserv Biol 6:324–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jennings DT (2002) Linyphia triangularis, a palearctic spider (Araneae, Linyphiidae) new to North America. J Arachnol 30:455–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jensen CA, Webster RJ, Carter D, Treskonova M (1997) Succession in tussock grasslands: implications for conservation management. Science for Conservation 61, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand, 20 ppGoogle Scholar
  35. Kobelt M, Nentwig W (2008) Alien spider introductions to Europe supported by global trade. Divers Distrib 14:273–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kolar CS, Lodge DM (2001) Progress in invasion biology: predicting invaders. Trends Ecol Evol 16:199–204PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lamarque LJ, Delzon S, Lortie CJ (2011) Tree invasions: a comparative test of the dominant hypotheses and functional traits. Biol Invasions 13:1969–1989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Legendre P, Legendre L (1998) Numerical Ecology. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, 853 ppGoogle Scholar
  39. Light T, Marchetti MP (2007) Distinguishing between invasions and habitat changes as drivers of diversity loss among California’s freshwater fishes. Conserv Biol 21:434–446PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. MacDougall A, Turkington R (2005) Are invasive species the drivers or passengers of change in degraded ecosystems? Ecology 86:42–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Malumbres-Olarte J, Barratt BIP, Vink CJ, Paterson AM, Cruickshank RH, Ferguson CM, Barton DM (2013a) Habitat specificity, dispersal and burning season: recovery indicators in New Zealand native grassland communities. Biol Conserv 160:140–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Malumbres-Olarte J, Vink CJ, Ross JG, Cruickshank RH, Paterson AM (2013b) The role of habitat complexity on spider communities in native alpine grasslands of New Zealand. Insect Conserv Divers 6:124–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mark AF (1969) Ecology of snow tussocks in the mountain grasslands of New Zealand. Plant Ecol 18:289–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mark AF (1994) Effects of burning and grazing on sustainable utilisation of upland snow tussock (Chionochloa spp.) rangelands for pastoralism in South Island, New Zealand. Aust J Bot 42:149–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mark AF, Michel P, Dickinson KJM, McLennan B (2009) The conservation (protected area) status of New Zealand’s indigenous grasslands: an update. NZ J Bot 47:53–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mazía CN, Chaneton EJ, Machera M, Uchitel A, Feler MV, Ghersa CM (2010) Antagonistic effects of large- and small-scale disturbances on exotic tree invasion in a native tussock grassland relict. Biol Invasions 12:3109–3122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Paquin P (2008) Carabid beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) diversity in the black spruce succession of eastern Canada. Biol Conserv 141:261–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Paquin P, Vink CJ, Dupérré N (2010) Spiders of New Zealand: annotated family key and species list. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, p vii+118Google Scholar
  49. Parker IM, Simberloff D, Lonsdale WM, Goodell K, Wonham M, Kareiva PM, Williamson MH, Von Holle B, Moyle PB, Byers JE, Goldwasser L (1999) Impact : toward a framework for understanding the ecological effects of invaders. Biol Invasions 1:3–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Payton IJ, Pearce HG (2009) Fire-induced changes to the vegetation of tall-tussock (Chionochloa rigida) grassland ecosystems. Science for Conservation 290, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand, 42 ppGoogle Scholar
  51. Perrins J, Williamson M, Fitter A (1992) A survey of differing views of weed classification: implications for regulation of introductions. Biol Conserv 60:47–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Platnick NI (2012) The World Spider Catalog, version 13.0 American Museum of Natural History. Accessed on 21 Jul 2012
  53. Rejmánek M, Richardson DM (1996) What attributes make some plant species invasive? Ecology 77:1655–1661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Seabloom EW, Harpole WS, Reichman OJ, Tilman D (2003) Invasion, competitive dominance, and resource use by exotic and native California grassland species. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:13384–13389PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  55. Shea K, Chesson P (2002) Community ecology theory as a framework for biological invasions. Trends Ecol Evol 17:170–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Simpson MR (1995) Convariation of spider egg and clutch size: the influence of foraging and parental care. Ecology 76:795–800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. R Development Core Team (2012) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Version 2.14.2Google Scholar
  58. Topping CJ, Lövei GL (1997) Spider density and diversity in relation to disturbance in agroecosystems in New Zealand, with a comparison to England. N Z J Ecol 21:121–128Google Scholar
  59. Tullgren A (1918) Ein sehr einfacher Ausleseapparat für terricole Tierformen. Z angew Entomol J Appl Entomol 4:149–150Google Scholar
  60. Vink CJ (2002) Lycosidae (Arachnida: Araneae). Fauna N Z 44:1–94Google Scholar
  61. Vink CJ, Teulon DAJ, McLachlan ARG, Stufkens MAW (2004) Spiders (Araneae) and harvestmen (Opiliones) in arable crops and grasses in Canterbury, New Zealand. NZ J Zool 31:149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wardle P (1991) Vegetation of New Zealand. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 672 ppGoogle Scholar
  63. Yurkonis KA, Meiners SJ, Wachholder BE (2005) Invasion impacts diversity through altered community dynamics. J Ecol 93:1053–1061CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jagoba Malumbres-Olarte
    • 1
    Email author
  • Barbara I. P. Barratt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Cor J. Vink
    • 4
    • 5
  • Adrian M. Paterson
    • 6
  • Robert H. Cruickshank
    • 6
  • Colin M. Ferguson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Diane M. Barton
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Natural History Museum of DenmarkUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen EDenmark
  2. 2.AgResearch InvermayMosgielNew Zealand
  3. 3.Better Border Biosecurity
  4. 4.Canterbury MuseumChristchurchNew Zealand
  5. 5.Entomology Research MuseumLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand
  6. 6.Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life SciencesLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations