Spatial distribution of spiders and epedaphic Collembola in an environmentally heterogeneous forest floor habitat

Elvira Sereda, Theo Blick, Wolfgang H. O. Dorow, Volkmar Wolters, Klaus Birkhofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)


Describing the biotic and abiotic processes that are responsible for the formation of spatial patterns in predators and their prey is crucial for improving our understanding of food-web interactions. We studied the spatial distribution of four abundant spider species and three common groups of epedaphic Collembola prey in a beech-dominated (Fagus sylvatica) forest floor habitat and related the observed patterns to environmental heterogeneity, overall predator activity (all ground beetles and spiders) and prey availability (all Collembola) at the local scale. Spiders and epedaphic Collembola were sampled over 392 days in a spatially explicit design based on a regular grid of 25 pitfall traps (inter-trap distance 100 m). Environmental heterogeneity was characterized by cover of moss and litter as well as the amount of dead wood at each trap location. We first used the index of dispersion to characterize the spatial distribution of spider species and Collembola and then related the observed patterns to environmental heterogeneity, predator and prey availability while testing for spatial autocorrelation within the same models. All taxa were significantly more aggregated than expected from the assumption of random distribution. The distribution of spider species was positively (Coelotes terrestris) or negatively (Tenuiphantes zimmermanni and Tapinocyba insecta) related to the cover of moss and negatively related to litter cover (C. terrestris) or the local availability of prey (T. insecta). The distribution of Collembola was negatively related to local litter cover (Lepidocyrtus spp.) and positively related to the amount of medium deadwood pieces (all other Entomobryidae). Our study suggests that none of the spider species preferred areas of low overall predator activity density. Moreover, it does not indicate association of spider species to prey-rich areas at the analyzed scale of WO m. It further highlights the importance of environmental heterogeneity, as different habitat properties differentially affected the local activity density of spiders and Collembola and thus considerably contributed to the understanding of distribution patterns. (c) 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-245
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology


  • Araneae
  • Habitat heterogeneity
  • Habitat preferences
  • Intraguild
  • interactions
  • Predator-prey interactions
  • Spatial distribution


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