Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (2): 257-265, 2008 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2008.036

Diversity of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneae) in roadside verges with grey hair-grass vegetation

Jinze NOORDIJK, André P. SCHAFFERS, Karlè V. SİKORA
Wageningen University, Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Roadside verges in densely populated areas are often a significant addition to the total semi-natural area and as such may contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. Furthermore, they can enhance the ecological cohesion of a region, especially when the existing nature reserves are small and/or highly fragmented. We investigated the occurrence of ground beetles and spiders in six highway verges with grey hair-grass vegetation in the Veluwe region, The Netherlands. Total species number in the verges was similar to the values found in nearby nature reserves with comparable vegetation, but the ground beetles tended to be more abundant in the reserves. Many stenotopic species were present in the verges, confirming the significant conservation value of this habitat. However, compared with the nature reserves, there were fewer species of stenotopic ground beetles and the stenotopic spiders were less abundant in the verges. From our knowledge of the biology and ecology of the species captured it seems likely that this is attributable to differences in "habitat quality". In the verges, species preferring bare sand are scarcer, and the weighted mean body length of ground beetles is shorter than in nature reserves. This suggests that the sward in the road verges is too dense and the suitable vegetation too patchy to sustain some of the stenotopic species. Habitat analyses support this contention: Compared with the nature reserves, the verges had proportionally less bare sand, more herb and tree cover and the vegetation patches were smaller. The strategy suggested to promote stenotopic species entails removing encroaching trees and shrubs from the verges in order to expand the nutrient-poor zone and (re-)create pioneer conditions. Subsequent management should aim at further improving the road verges as extensions of nutrient-poor habitat.

Keywords: Araneae, Carabidae, diversity, management, roadside verges, Spergulo-Corynephoretum, stenotopic species, The Netherlands

Received: December 4, 2007; Accepted: January 22, 2008; Published: May 15, 2008

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