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Functional losses in ground spider communities due to habitat structure degradation under tropical land-use change

Deforestation and land‐use change in tropical regions result in habitat loss and extinction of species that are unable to adapt to the conditions in agricultural landscapes. If the associated loss of functional diversity is not compensated by species colonizing the converted habitats, extinctions might be followed by a reduction or loss of ecosystem functions including biological control. To date, little is known about how land‐use change in the tropics alters the functional diversity of invertebrate predators and which key environmental factors may mitigate the decline in functional diversity and predation in litter and soil communities. We applied litter sieving and heat extraction to study ground spider communities and assessed structural characteristics of vegetation and parameters of litter in rainforest and agricultural land‐use systems (jungle rubber, rubber, and oil palm monocultures) in a Southeast Asian hotspot of rainforest conversion: Sumatra, Indonesia. We found that (1) spider density, species richness, functional diversity, and community predation (energy flux to spiders) were reduced by 57–98% from rainforest to oil palm monoculture; (2) jungle rubber and rubber monoculture sustained relatively high diversity and predation in ground spiders, but small cryptic spider species strongly declined; (3) high species turnover compensated losses of some functional trait combinations, but did not compensate for the overall loss of functional diversity and predation per unit area; (4) spider diversity was related to habitat structure such as amount of litter, understory density, and understory height, while spider predation was better explained by plant diversity. Management practices that increase habitat‐structural complexity and plant diversity such as mulching, reduced weeding, and intercropping monocultures with other plants may contribute to maintaining functional diversity of and predation services provided by ground invertebrate communities in plantations.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Potapov, A. M., Dupérré, N., Jochum, M., Dreczko, K., Klarner, B., Barnes, A. D., … Scheu, S. (2020). Functional losses in ground spider communities due to habitat structure degradation under tropical land-use change. Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2957
© 2019 by the Ecological Society of America