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Spiders associated with the meadow and tree canopies or orchards respond differently to habitat fragmentation

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2010
Author Herrmann J.D. Bailey D. Hofer G. Herzog F. Schmidt-Entling M.H. ,
Project The importance of local habitat fragmentation versus landscape composition for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes - FRAGMENT
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Landscape Ecology
Volume (Issue) 25
Page(s) 1375 - 1384
Title of proceedings Landscape Ecology


The response of animal communities to habitat quality and fragmentation may vary depending on microhabitat associations of species. For example, sensitivity of species to woody habitat fragmentation should increase with their degree of association with woody plants. We investigated effects of local and landscape factors on spider communities in different microhabitats within Swiss apple orchards. We expected a stronger negative effect of woody habitat fragmentation on spiders inhabiting tree canopies compared to spiders living in the meadow. The 30 orchards that we sampled varied in woody habitat amount and isolation at landscape and patch scales. Local factors included management intensity and plant diversity. Spiders associated with meadow were affected by plant diversity, but not by fragmentation. In contrast, spiders associated with canopies responded to isolation from other woody habitats. Surprisingly, we found both positive and negative effects of habitat isolation on local abundance. This indicates that differences in dispersal and/or biotic interactions shape the specific response to habitat isolation. The relative importance of local and landscape factors was in accordance with the microhabitat of the spiders. Thus, considering microhabitat associations can be important for identifying processes that would be overlooked if sampling were pooled for the whole habitat.