Impact of prescribed burning on a heathland inhabiting spider community

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Heathlands can provide refuge for many stenotopic and endangered arthropods, if habitat management practices are applied. A management measure that is rarely being used today, but which has the potential to support diversity of arthropod communities, is prescribed burning. In this study we investigated the effects of prescribed burning on spider assemblages on a burned site with Calluna vulgaris in the nature reserve Lueneburg Heath, northwest Germany. We used pitfall trapping with a sampling design of 39 traps over a period of one year and 17 sampling intervals on a burned and a control site. We compared overall species richness, activity abundance patterns and community composition of the two sites, with a particular focus on stenotopic and endangered species. We collected 5116 adult spiders and 99 species altogether in a relatively small sampling area. This number of species represents nearly one third of the regional species pool of heathland spider species. Twelve species occurred exclusively on the burned site in contrast to 28 species exclusively found on the unburned site. Although we found more than twice as many spider individuals and higher mean species richness on the control site than on the burned site, the species richness of red-listed spiders was higher on the burned site. Especially the fact that we found 24 endangered species on the burned site and only 20 on the control site indicates that the applied measure of prescribed burning can foster certain endangered spider species and contribute to preserving the overall biodiversity of heathland ecosystems.

Translated title of the contributionZusammenfassung. Auswirkungen von kontrolliertem brennen auf eine heide bewohnende spinnengesellschaft
Original languageEnglish
JournalArachnologische Mitteilungen
Issue number51
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2016