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How Iberian are we? Mediterranean climate determines structure and endemicity of spider communities in Iberian oak forests


Understanding the causes behind species richness and endemicity is fundamental to explain biodiversity and assist conservation management, especially in biodiversity hotspots like the Mediterranean Basin. Here we investigate the patterns in Iberian forest spider communities and the processes behind their assembly, by testing hypotheses about the effects of climate and habitat on species richness, endemicity and structure of communities at different spatial scales, and about how microhabitat and dispersal affect the level of endemicity of species. We studied 16 spider communities in Iberian Quercus forests from different climatic zones, applying a standardised sampling protocol. We examined the contribution of habitat, climate, and geography to the differences in the composition of spider communities across spatial scales using distance-based redundancy analysis models (dbRDA) and principal coordinates of neighbour matrices (PCNM). We assessed the effects of the same variables on the endemicity of communities (measured by a weighted index), and tested the correlation between the microhabitat and the ballooning frequency (obtained from bibliography), and the endemicity of species through generalised linear models. Spider communities formed two groups—one southern and one northern—based on similarity in species composition. Precipitation and temperature were inversely related with the number of species while geography and forest type explained the compositional similarities between communities at different spatial scales. Endemicity of communities increased with temperature and decreased with precipitation, whereas species endemicity decreased with ballooning frequency. Our findings illustrate how niche-related processes may drive spider diversity while dispersal determines species distribution and identity and, ultimately, community composition. From a conservation viewpoint, when maximising species richness is incompatible with prioritising endemicity, the criteria to follow may depend on the geographic scale at which decisions are made.

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This work would not have been possible without the priceless help of all the people that participated in collecting and sorting the samples, namely Nuria Macías, Eva de Mas, Paola Mazzuca, Elisa Mora, Vera Opatova Enric Planas, Marcos Roca-Cusachs, Dolores Ruiz, Pedro Sousa and Vanina Tonzo. We also want to acknowledge the park directors and responsables Miguel Menéndez de la Hoz (Picos de Europa), Elena Villagrasa (Ordesa), Maria Merced Aniz Montes (Aigüestortes), Angel Rodriguez Martin (Monfragüe), Angel Gómez Manzaneque (Cabañeros), Blanca Ramos Losada (Sierra Nevada) for issuing the permits and providing logistic support for conducting fieldwork in their respective parks. We would like to further acknowledge all the park rangers that help us locating and helping us to set up the plots. We are grateful to AEMET (Agencia Estatal de Meteorología, Spain) for providing climatic data for the Iberian Peninsula. We also thank the University of Barcelona for supporting the contribution of M.D. through the APIF PhD fellowship. This research was supported by The Spanish Autonomous Organization of National Parks (Ministry of Agriculture, Alimentation and Environment) grant 495/2012 “Reconciling semi-quantitative bioinventoring with DNA barcoding to infer diversity and biogeographical patterns in the Spanish National Parks network” to MAA.

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Correspondence to Jagoba Malumbres-Olarte.

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Communicated by Nigel E. Stork.

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This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Forest and plantation biodiversity.

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Malumbres-Olarte, J., Crespo, L.C., Domènech, M. et al. How Iberian are we? Mediterranean climate determines structure and endemicity of spider communities in Iberian oak forests. Biodivers Conserv 29, 3973–3996 (2020).

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