Impacts of grazing and burning on spider assemblages in dry eucalypt forests of north-eastern New South Wales, Australia

Rebecca Harris*, Alan York, Andrew J. Beattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the dry eucalypt forests of north-eastern New South Wales, Australia, cattle grazing occurs at low intensities and is accompanied by frequent low-intensity burning. This study investigated the combined effects of this management practice on the ground-dwelling and arboreal (low vegetation) spider assemblages. Spiders were sampled at 49 sites representing a range of grazing intensities, using pitfall trapping, litter extraction and sweep sampling. A total of 237 spider morphospecies from 37 families were collected using this composite sampling strategy. The abundance, richness, composition and structure of spider assemblages in grazed and ungrazed forest sites were compared and related to a range of environmental variables. Spider assemblages responded to a range of environmental factors at the landscape, habitat and microhabitat scales. Forest type, spatial relationships and habitat variability at the site scale were more important in determining spider assemblages than localized low-intensity grazing and burning. However, it is possible that a threshold intensity of grazing may exist, above which spiders respond to grazing and burning. Although low-intensity grazing and burning may not affect spider assemblages below a threshold stocking rate, that stocking rate has yet to be established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-538
Number of pages13
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

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