Epigeal spider assemblage responses to vegetation structure under contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands

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Abstract

Abstract. 1. Calcareous grassland is one of the most species rich and diverse habitats within Europe, but has faced decline due to agricultural intensification and abandonment. In recent years, conservation organisations have altered grazing practices in an attempt to maintain floristic components. However, there has been little consideration of the effects of changes in grazing practices on invertebrates. This study determines the impacts of commonly used grazing practices in upland calcareous grasslands on spiders in relation to vegetation structural complexity. 2. Typical grazing management regimes were examined in three regions of upland calcareous grassland in Britain. Spiders were sampled from April to August 2014 and vegetation structural complexity was recorded in 2 9 2 m quadrats paired with pitfall traps sequentially throughout the sample period. 3. There were three distinct spider assemblages among the grazing regimes; ungrazed, heavy sheep grazed and one shared between cattle and light sheep (which had a comparable grazing intensity). The distinct spider assemblages among grazing regimes can be attributed to the interaction of grazing and habitat structure. 4. Increased vegetation structural complexity in ungrazed regimes resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘sheet web weavers’ (dominated by Linyphiidae). In contrast, reduced vegetation structural complexity and homogeneity in heavy sheep grazing resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘other hunters’ (including Oedothorax and Erigone genera). 5. Grazing regime alters vegetation structural complexity and is important in supporting distinct spider assemblages. This research indicates that low intensity conservation grazing regimes, in addition to no grazing, should be promoted across upland calcareous grassland landscapes to maintain heterogeneity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInsect Conservation and Diversity
Early online date27 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2018

Fingerprint

calcareous grassland
grazing management
vegetation structure
spider
Araneae
highlands
grazing
grasslands
vegetation
sheep
Linyphiidae
grazing intensity
pitfall traps
pitfall trap
United Kingdom
floristics
homogeneity
cattle
invertebrates
invertebrate

Keywords

  • Spiders
  • Grazing
  • Calcareous grassland
  • Vegetation Structure
  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Conservation
  • GLMM
  • Rarefaction

Cite this

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title = "Epigeal spider assemblage responses to vegetation structure under contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands",
abstract = "Abstract. 1. Calcareous grassland is one of the most species rich and diverse habitats within Europe, but has faced decline due to agricultural intensification and abandonment. In recent years, conservation organisations have altered grazing practices in an attempt to maintain floristic components. However, there has been little consideration of the effects of changes in grazing practices on invertebrates. This study determines the impacts of commonly used grazing practices in upland calcareous grasslands on spiders in relation to vegetation structural complexity. 2. Typical grazing management regimes were examined in three regions of upland calcareous grassland in Britain. Spiders were sampled from April to August 2014 and vegetation structural complexity was recorded in 2 9 2 m quadrats paired with pitfall traps sequentially throughout the sample period. 3. There were three distinct spider assemblages among the grazing regimes; ungrazed, heavy sheep grazed and one shared between cattle and light sheep (which had a comparable grazing intensity). The distinct spider assemblages among grazing regimes can be attributed to the interaction of grazing and habitat structure. 4. Increased vegetation structural complexity in ungrazed regimes resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘sheet web weavers’ (dominated by Linyphiidae). In contrast, reduced vegetation structural complexity and homogeneity in heavy sheep grazing resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘other hunters’ (including Oedothorax and Erigone genera). 5. Grazing regime alters vegetation structural complexity and is important in supporting distinct spider assemblages. This research indicates that low intensity conservation grazing regimes, in addition to no grazing, should be promoted across upland calcareous grassland landscapes to maintain heterogeneity.",
keywords = "Spiders, Grazing, Calcareous grassland, Vegetation Structure, Cattle, Sheep, Conservation, GLMM, Rarefaction",
author = "Ashley Lyons and Paul Ashton and Ian Powell and Anne Oxbrough",
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month = "1",
day = "27",
doi = "10.1111/icad.12287",
language = "English",
journal = "Insect Conservation and Diversity",
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T1 - Epigeal spider assemblage responses to vegetation structure under contrasting grazing management in upland calcareous grasslands

AU - Lyons, Ashley

AU - Ashton, Paul

AU - Powell, Ian

AU - Oxbrough, Anne

PY - 2018/1/27

Y1 - 2018/1/27

N2 - Abstract. 1. Calcareous grassland is one of the most species rich and diverse habitats within Europe, but has faced decline due to agricultural intensification and abandonment. In recent years, conservation organisations have altered grazing practices in an attempt to maintain floristic components. However, there has been little consideration of the effects of changes in grazing practices on invertebrates. This study determines the impacts of commonly used grazing practices in upland calcareous grasslands on spiders in relation to vegetation structural complexity. 2. Typical grazing management regimes were examined in three regions of upland calcareous grassland in Britain. Spiders were sampled from April to August 2014 and vegetation structural complexity was recorded in 2 9 2 m quadrats paired with pitfall traps sequentially throughout the sample period. 3. There were three distinct spider assemblages among the grazing regimes; ungrazed, heavy sheep grazed and one shared between cattle and light sheep (which had a comparable grazing intensity). The distinct spider assemblages among grazing regimes can be attributed to the interaction of grazing and habitat structure. 4. Increased vegetation structural complexity in ungrazed regimes resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘sheet web weavers’ (dominated by Linyphiidae). In contrast, reduced vegetation structural complexity and homogeneity in heavy sheep grazing resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘other hunters’ (including Oedothorax and Erigone genera). 5. Grazing regime alters vegetation structural complexity and is important in supporting distinct spider assemblages. This research indicates that low intensity conservation grazing regimes, in addition to no grazing, should be promoted across upland calcareous grassland landscapes to maintain heterogeneity.

AB - Abstract. 1. Calcareous grassland is one of the most species rich and diverse habitats within Europe, but has faced decline due to agricultural intensification and abandonment. In recent years, conservation organisations have altered grazing practices in an attempt to maintain floristic components. However, there has been little consideration of the effects of changes in grazing practices on invertebrates. This study determines the impacts of commonly used grazing practices in upland calcareous grasslands on spiders in relation to vegetation structural complexity. 2. Typical grazing management regimes were examined in three regions of upland calcareous grassland in Britain. Spiders were sampled from April to August 2014 and vegetation structural complexity was recorded in 2 9 2 m quadrats paired with pitfall traps sequentially throughout the sample period. 3. There were three distinct spider assemblages among the grazing regimes; ungrazed, heavy sheep grazed and one shared between cattle and light sheep (which had a comparable grazing intensity). The distinct spider assemblages among grazing regimes can be attributed to the interaction of grazing and habitat structure. 4. Increased vegetation structural complexity in ungrazed regimes resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘sheet web weavers’ (dominated by Linyphiidae). In contrast, reduced vegetation structural complexity and homogeneity in heavy sheep grazing resulted in an assemblage dominated by ‘other hunters’ (including Oedothorax and Erigone genera). 5. Grazing regime alters vegetation structural complexity and is important in supporting distinct spider assemblages. This research indicates that low intensity conservation grazing regimes, in addition to no grazing, should be promoted across upland calcareous grassland landscapes to maintain heterogeneity.

KW - Spiders

KW - Grazing

KW - Calcareous grassland

KW - Vegetation Structure

KW - Cattle

KW - Sheep

KW - Conservation

KW - GLMM

KW - Rarefaction

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DO - 10.1111/icad.12287

M3 - Article

JO - Insect Conservation and Diversity

JF - Insect Conservation and Diversity

SN - 1752-458X

ER -