The implications of grassland and heathland management for the conservation of spider communities: a review

Authors

  • James R. Bell,

    1. School of Life Sciences, University of Surrey Roehampton, Whitelands College, West Hill, London SW15 3SN, U.K.
    2. Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, U.K.
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  • C. Philip Wheater,

    1. Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, U.K.
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  • W. Rod Cullen

    1. Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, U.K.
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Abstract

Both intensity and type of habitat management in grasslands and heathlands affect spider communities. With high intensity management, spider communities often lack diversity and are dominated by a few r-selected species affiliated with bare ground. Low intensity management produces more complex communities introducing more niches for aerial web spinners and climbing spiders. The preferred management will be site-dependent and may not be appropriate for all spiders in all situations, particularly for some rare or threatened species. Providing natural cover is recommended when using extreme forms of management or intensive grazing (particularly by sheep). In extreme cases, or where trampling is heavy, the litter layer should be conserved. We advocate research and survey before and after major management implementation. Habitat management for spiders should not be considered alone, but integrated into a holistic plan. Management for spiders may conflict with rare plant conservation and small reserves should examine the viability of providing two contrasting regimes.

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