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Spider communities in urban green patches and their relation to local and landscape traits


Urbanization and urban landscape characteristics greatly alter plant and animal species richness and abundances in negative and positive directions. Spiders are top predators, often considered to be sensitive to habitat alteration. Studies in urban environments frequently focus on ground-dwelling spiders or on spiders in built structures, leaving aside foliage spiders. Effects of habitat, landscape type and structure and local characteristics on spider species composition, richness and relative abundance were evaluated in urban green patches in a temperate city of South America. We also assess whether Salticidae could be an indicator group for the broader spider community in the urban environment. Spiders were sampled with a G-VAC (aspirator) in urban green patches in Córdoba city, Argentina, in urban, suburban and exurban habitats (18 sites; six per habitat) and local and landscape traits were assessed. Overall, the exurban was richer than the urban habitat, however, at the site level Salticidae richness and abundance (but not the total spider assemblage) were significantly lower in urban sites. Species composition moderately differed between urban and exurban sites. Results indicate that on urban green spaces a low impervious surface cover, a coverage of trees, herbaceous vegetation and a vertical structure of vegetation at least up to 1 m in height contribute to higher richness and abundance of spiders, Salticidae being more sensitive than the overall spider community to local effects. In addition, Salticidae richness can predict 74% of the total spider richness recorded and may be used as spider diversity bio-indicators in this climatic region.

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We are especially grateful for taxonomic support received from Dr. Antonio Brescovit and Dr. Lemon Yuri (Instituto Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil); Dr. Arno Lise and Dr. Renato Teixeira (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil); Dr. Martín Ramírez and Dr. Luis Piasentini (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, Buenos Aires, Argentina); and Dr. Matías Izquierdo (Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal-CONICET-UNC, Córdoba, Argentina). We acknowledge laboratory assistance from Leandro Wagner, Leandro Barbeito, Luna Silvetti, Alan Ruiz and Iliana Ontivero. We thank Alfredo Santa (IMBIV-CONICET-UNC) support with GIS processing. RM Gleiser and GD Rubio are Career researchers from CONICET. CI Argañaraz holds a scholarship from the same institution and is a doctorate of FCEFyN, UNC. We acknowledge four anonymous reviewers for several useful comments on the manuscript.


This project was partially funded by PICT-2014-2492 (Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica), PIP 112-2013-0100315CO (CONICET) and PIP 307 201501 00852 CB (SECYT-UNC) Grants.

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Correspondence to Carina I. Argañaraz or Raquel M. Gleiser.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Communicated by Andreas Schuldt.

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Urban biodiversity.


Appendix 1

See Tables 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Table 4 Total abundances of adult spiders collected within each habitat category in Córdoba city Argentina
Table 5 Result of one way ANOVA of spider richness and abundance at three habitat types, followed by Tukey test where differences were significant (p < 0.05)
Table 6 Taxa contributing most to the average dissimilarities (SIMPER analysis) between urban and exurban sites are listed in descending order of contribution, with their mean abundance, their percentage contribution and cumulative contribution to the overall dissimilarity
Table 7 Simple regressions between local variables and spider richness (only significant results are shown)
Table 8 Simple regressions between local variables and spider abundance (only significant results are shown)

Appendix 2

See Figs. 5, 6, 7 and 8.

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Sample rarefaction curves using Salticidae richness. Squares line: exurban; circles line: suburban and triangles line: urban. Pointed and dashed lines are respective 95% confidence intervals

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Relation between green cover within 1000 m buffer area and a total spider richness, b spider richness minus Salticidae

Fig. 8
figure 8

Relation between landscape heterogeneity (exp (H)) within 1000 m buffer area and a total spider richness b Salticidae species richness

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Argañaraz, C.I., Rubio, G.D. & Gleiser, R.M. Spider communities in urban green patches and their relation to local and landscape traits. Biodivers Conserv 27, 981–1009 (2018).

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  • Diversity
  • Argentina
  • Araneae
  • Salticidae
  • Urbanization
  • City