A Comparative Study of Spider (Araneae) Communities of Rehabilitated Bauxite Mines and Surrounding Forest in the Southwest of Western Australia

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Abstract

A study of spider (Araneae) communities was conducted in rehabilitated bauxite mines at the Jarrahdale mine site of Alcoa of Australia Ltd. and in the nearby native jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest in southwest Western Australia. The study was conducted from March to August 1993 in five rehabilitated sites of different age and method of rehabilitation and in two forest sites. A variety of collection methods was used, including pitfall trapping, litter sampling, sweep netting, tree beating, and visual searching. These methods were the same as those carried out in a previous study of some of these areas in 1983. We collected 151 spider species belonging to 102 genera and 34 families. We examined the relationship between various habitat features, including the age and method of rehabilitation, of the spider communities present. It was found that leaf litter depth and cover and vegetation density had a significant positive influence on recolonization by the various spider guilds. The age and method of rehabilitation were found to influence different vegetational and habitat features; these, in turn, influenced the spider communities. Thus, the older a rehabilitated site the greater the species richness of both plants and spiders. We compared these results with those of the 1983 study to determine the spider succession of the aging rehabilitation. The spider communities and guild composition were found to change as the vegetation matured, from a dominance of pioneer species to a community of species requiring less harsh conditions. By comparison with the pre-1983 rehabilitation, the latest method of rehabilitation increased the rate of recolonization by both plants and spiders.

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