Impacts of wildlife and cattle grazing on spider (araneae) biodiversity in a highland savanna ecosystem, in Laikipia, Central Kenya
At the guild level of resolution, the exclosure treatments had no significant effects on diversity, species richness and species evenness of web builders, plant wanderers and ground wanderers. Plant wanderers were significantly and positively correlated with relative vegetation cover, which explained 17% of variation in their diversity. Six individual species responded strongly and in contrasting ways to the same environmental variables, indicating that this level was more sensitive to environmental changes than guilds or the overall spider community. Spider diversity, relative vegetation cover and rainfall varied at a temporal scale of months and not at a spatial scale of hundreds of metres. Only species diversity and species richness from sweep-netting samples and total species from pitfall-trapping varied significantly at a spatial scale of hundreds of metres. Ordination analysis revealed that sweep-netting samples were a better indicator of grazing impacts than pitfalltrapping or combined samples and grouped to reflect cattle grazing, non-cattle grazing and to a small extent the control treatments. Other ordination analyses showed that only samples from sweep-netting and not from pitfall-trapping, were spatially partitioned at a scale of hundreds of metres. This study concludes that the spider fauna of black cotton soil habitats is rich and useful for environmental monitoring and that monitoring of several individual species as indicator of grazing impacts in savanna could be useful and relatively easy.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2005