Although spiders are common inhabitants of tree cavities, factors that drive their community structure in these microhabitats are little known. Here we investigated whether bark type, season, intraguild predation (IGP) among spiders, and presence of vertebrate predators can influence the spider community structure in tree cavities. We examined spider abundance and the taxonomic and functional composition of spiders in nest-boxes within two mixed forest stands in central Slovakia in 2012–2013. In total, 1211 spiders belonging to 31 species were sampled from 60 nest-boxes at two sites over three seasons. Spider abundance peaked in autumn as spiders sought wintering sites. Guilds and taxonomic composition changed seasonally with spring and autumn communities dominated by “Other hunters” (Anyphaenidae, Clubionidae, Philodromidae) while during summer the community was dominated by “Sheet web weavers” (Linyphiidae). The guild and taxonomic turnover may be partly explained by the interaction between spiders' phenology and IGP exerted by winter-active spiders on smaller spiders from autumn until spring. Bark type influenced the guild composition as dominance of “Space web weavers” was higher in trees with rough bark than in trees with smooth bark. The rough bark also reduced the intensity of IGP by Anyphaena accentuata (Sundevall, 1833) on philodromids. The presence of insectivorous birds reduced the abundance of spiders by 67%. The presence of bird predators altered the guild composition as they affected mostly the web spiders. The results show that the biotic interactions and abiotic factors interactively determined the spider community structure in the nest-boxes depending on spiders' functional traits.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2