Habitat specialist spiders in coastal dunes benefit from eradication of the invasive shrub Rosa rugosa

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Abstract: Eradication of invasive plants from natural habitats may have positive side effects other than removal of the invasive species. The study describes an unintended but positive consequence of a program for eradication of Rosa rugosa in Danish coastal dunes. The measures undertaken leaves areas formerly covered by rose bushes as bare sandy patches. Vegetation-free habitat has become rare in coastal dune areas due to effective control of the natural sand dynamics, with potentially devastating consequences for the most specialized dune fauna. As a result, xerothermic species, i.e. species that depend on dry, sun-exposed and vegetation-free habitat, are particularly threatened. In a rose eradication program carried out by the Danish Nature Agency in Thy, Denmark, I tested the hypothesis that habitat specialist spiders in general and xerothermic spider species in particular would take advantage of such newly created habitat. I sampled the spider fauna by pitfall traps in areas cleared of roses, in adjacent marram vegetation, and in remaining small rose patches. The assemblage of spiders caught in the cleared areas consisted of species with more narrow habitat occurrence and stronger preference for openness of the habitat compared with those of the marram vegetation and rose patches. Also, the proportion of xerothermic individuals and species was increased in the assemblages of the cleared areas. I conclude that the habitat disturbance from rose eradication favours specialist spiders by substituting for the natural sand dynamics. Implications for insect conservation: Creation of vegetation-free areas benefits dune specialist species and should be implemented for that purpose even if not combined with eradication of roses.

TidsskriftJournal of Insect Conservation
Sider (fra-til)993-1003
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2020

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