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17 February 2023 Arboreal Spiders of Native Shrubs in Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems of Eastern Colorado
Eric M. Knutson
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Biological diversity is a key descriptor to evaluate ecological systems and is often used to identify specific components of local habitat that can be quantified. Heterogeneous habitats provide increased environmental variation in habitat type and might support increase in biological diversity. Spiders (Araneae) are a diverse taxonomic group that fills numerous niches in a grassland landscape. I hypothesized that plant type (shrub species) affects habitat availability of arboreal spiders and expected differences in spider diversity patterns (Shannon index, abundance) to be observed locally. This research was done at Comanche and Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado and studied how spiders occupy native shrubs in the grassland steppe ecoregion. Araneae taxa are reported for both Comanche and Pawnee National Grassland locations. For Comanche National Grassland, significant differences in spider diversity existed between specific shrub species, especially the spider families Salticidae, Philodromidae, Oxyopidae, and Dictynidae. Fewer shrub species were at Pawnee National Grassland, but Salticidae, Dictynidae, and Oxyopidae were abundant. Twenty-seven genera and thirty-one species were at CNG, and seven genera and sixteen species were at PNG. Analyses provide support that spiders prioritize certain shrubs that provide more resources. Results suggested that changes in available shrub habitat might significantly impact spider diversity in the grassland ecosystems.

Eric M. Knutson "Arboreal Spiders of Native Shrubs in Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems of Eastern Colorado," Southwestern Entomologist 47(4), 793-806, (17 February 2023).
Published: 17 February 2023
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