Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 13, pp 2953–2965 | Cite as

Underestimated spider diversity in a temperate beech forest

  • Yu-Lung HsiehEmail author
  • Karl Eduard Linsenmair
Original Paper


We used canopy fogging to study the high (20–26 m), intermediate (13–19 m) and low (5–6 m) strata in three European beech patches (Fagus sylvatica) in nine months (2005–2007) and estimate species richness and diversity of arboreal spiders. Eight species (10%) were previously unseen in European beech trees, and one of these is likely a new species. Moreover, two species are on the Bavarian red list. Our results revealed that the high stratum of the old-growth trees provided unique resources and possessed the greatest diversity and evenness, whereas intermediate and low strata had high similarity in respect to diversity, dominance, species, and family composition. Since the majority of beech forests consists of mature and young trees in Central Europe, and old-growth forests are rarely preserved, we recommend young beech be used in a sampling protocol for rapid biodiversity assessment. However, adding samples from the two higher strata to the lowest stratum (55 species), almost doubled the estimated species richness (102 species). This suggests that the lower stratum alone does not represent a true image of the total canopy fauna inventory in this, and likely other, beech stands. To complete this comprehensive inventory in European beeches, the Chao1 predicted that additional sampling would be needed in the highest stratum, where there is a high probability to find previously undetected species in a next survey. Our study clearly shows that neglecting the crowns of the largest, tallest trees risks underestimating the overall spider diversity in Central European forests.


Araneae Canopy fogging European beech Forest biodiversity Species richness estimation True diversity 



We would like to thank Hans Stark, the director Würzburg University Forest for authorizing the field works; Brigitte Fiala, Torsten Hothorn, Jörg Müller, Julian Norghauer, Anne Chao and reviewers for valuable comments; Stefan Otto assisted with spider identification and Theo Blick confirmed the endangered species list; Julian Norghauer for linguistic revision. This study was supported by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Taiwan Ministry of Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical BiologyUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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