The distribution, abundance, and diversity of wolf spider (Lycosidae) assemblages were investigated via pitfall trapping at three sites near Granite Reef Dam outside Phoenix, Arizona. These three sites featured different moisture and temperature regimes due to the dam, which diverts the Salt River into an urban canal system. Site 1 was a natural riparian area above the dam along the Salt River, Site 2 was adjacent to a man-made diversion canal, and Site 3 was adjacent to the dry riverbed below the dam. Four lycosid species were found at Site 1, with Pardosa vadosa Barnes 1959 dominating. Two species each, though very few total individuals, were found at Sites 2 and 3. Simpson's index of diversity (of lycosids and of all other terrestrial arthropods) was higher for Site 1 than for Sites 2–3. Prey availability was comparable among sites, but Site 1 had significantly higher relative soil moisture levels and less extreme substrate and air temperature conditions than did Sites 2 and 3. Spider abundance at each site was independent of prey availability, but instead depended chiefly upon moisture and temperature regimes among sites. The results suggest that wolf spiders experienced a significant effect from disturbance of their habitat by the dam, and that abiotic habitat attributes such as moisture and temperature may be more important for wolf spider abundance than prey availability alone in desert riparian systems.
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