Faculté des sciences

Water limitation prevails over energy in European diversity gradients of sheetweb spiders (Araneae: Linyphiidae)

Kumschick, Sabrina ; Schmidt-Entling, Martin H. ; Bacher, Sven ; Hickler, Thomas ; Entling, Wiebke ; Nentwig, Wolfgang

In: Basic and Applied Ecology, 2009, vol. 10, no. 8, p. 754-762

Across large spatial scales, species richness in many taxa is mainly determined by climatic variables. However, some of the mechanisms behind large-scale patterns of species richness and abundance are expected to act on the community level, and on a smaller scale than the resolution of the data commonly used for deriving these patterns. We studied the distribution of sheetweb spiders (Araneae:... Plus

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    Summary
    Across large spatial scales, species richness in many taxa is mainly determined by climatic variables. However, some of the mechanisms behind large-scale patterns of species richness and abundance are expected to act on the community level, and on a smaller scale than the resolution of the data commonly used for deriving these patterns. We studied the distribution of sheetweb spiders (Araneae: Linyphiidae) across Europe using both standardised samples from local habitats and large-scale inventories. In the first approach, we analysed species and individual numbers from standardised pitfall traps from 17 locations distributed from northern Sweden to Spain and Greece. We also calculated Simpson indices to correct for different activity densities. Additionally, we analysed whether diversity of sheetweb spiders is sensitive to habitat type. In the second approach, we investigated the known sheetweb spider species richness of European countries and large islands. In both datasets, species richness of sheetweb spiders reached a maximum at about 55°N and declined towards the Mediterranean and the Arctic. In addition, species richness decreased from western (maritime) to eastern (continental) regions. Also Simpson diversity showed a hump-shaped relation to latitude, and was the only variable influenced by habitat type. In contrast to species richness and diversity, activity density increased monotonously with latitude. Towards the north, sheetweb spiders are likely limited by energy availability, towards the south, water limitation as well as bottom-up and top-down community interactions may reduce sheetweb spiders. Accordingly, their diversity does not follow the pattern of vertebrates, large insects and aquatic organisms, which depend more strongly on energy availability.