Liming alters body size distribution in a community of epigeic spiders in birch forest (Betula pendula Roth)

Liming, an ameliorative method for acidified forest soils, affected the relative abundance of prey of ground-hunting spiders and consequently reduced densities of functionally similar species of these predators.

Context Liming, an ameliorative method for acidified forest soils, may modify the structure of an arthropod community by altering the soil characteristics and/or the availability of food resources.
Aims We investigated the effect of liming on the community structure of ground-hunting spiders in a birch forest.
Methods We established six experimental birch stand plots. Each stand was exposed to one of three experimental treatments: control, 1.5 t/ha, or 3 t/ha of dolomitic limestone. We collected spiders using pitfall traps during 5 years. We characterized the community in terms of activity density, species richness, community-weighted mean body size, and functional diversity and evenness in body size. We further investigated the potential links through which the liming might affect spiders, namely soil characteristics, effect of liming on birch, and densities of potential prey.
Results The commonly used dosage of 3 t/ha reduced densities of functionally similar species which led to the reduced functional evenness in body size and increased functional divergence in body size. Liming increased soil pH only slightly but decreased the densities of spiders’ preferred prey.
Conclusion The liming affected the community of ground-hunting spiders, at least partially, through reduced densities of their preferred prey.

Keywords
Acidification, Functional diversity, Predator Soil

Publication
Michalko, R., Kula, E. & Košulič, O. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 92.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-018-0769-8

For the read-only version of the full text: https://rdcu.be/baQqm

Data availability
The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the supplementary material.

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