Canadian Forest Service Publications

Spider assemblages in the overstory, understory, and ground layers of managed stands in the western boreal mixedwood forest of Canada. 2011. Pinzon, J.; Spence, J.R.; Langor, D.W. Environmental Entomology 40(4): 797-808.

Year: 2011

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32674

Language: English

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Logging is the main human disturbance in the boreal forest; thus, understanding the effects of harvesting practices on biodiversity is essential for a more sustainable forestry. To assess changes in spider composition because of harvesting, samples were collected from three forest layers (overstory, understory, and ground) of deciduous and conifer dominated stands in the northwestern Canadian boreal mixedwood forest. Spider assemblages and feeding guild composition were compared between uncut controls and stands harvested to 20% retention. In total, 143 spider species were collected, 74 from the ground, 60 from the understory, and 71 from the overstory, and species composition of these three pools differed considerably among layers. Distinctive spider assemblages were collected from the canopy of each forest cover type but these were only slightly affected by harvesting. However, logging had a greater impact on the species composition in the understory and ground layers when compared with unharvested controls. Guild structure differed among layers, with wandering and sheet-weaving spiders dominant on the ground while orb-weaving and ambush spiders were better represented in the understory and overstory, respectively. Given the ecological importance of spiders and the expectation of faunal changes with increased harvesting, further efforts toward the understanding of species composition in higher strata of the boreal forest are needed.