Spiders are important generalist predators in agroecosystems, yet early season colonization is poorly understood, especially in northern regions. We investigated colonization patterns of spiders in agricultural fields after snow-melt in four cornfields in southwestern Quebec (Canada). Paired pitfall traps were associated with two drift fences to obtain data about immigration to and emigration from the fields and were placed at increasing distances from a deciduous forest border. Control traps were placed four meters inside the forest. Seventy-four species were collected, dominated by Linyphiidae and Lycosidae. Most of the fauna was already active during the first weeks of collection, and early season assemblages differed from late season assemblages. A significant ecotone effect was found for spider abundance, species richness and species composition. This study stresses the importance of early season spider activity in agroecosystems, and this context is relevant to a period of colonization by the dominant, active spider species.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1