Short–term effects of horse grazing on spider assemblages of a dry meadow (Western France)

Pétillon. J.  François, A.  Lafage, D. 

Abstract

In this study, the biodiversity impacts of a little studied herbivore, the horse, were assessed in a high conservation value habitat of dry meadows in Brittany (Western France). Spiders, a diversified and abundant group of predators, were used as bioindicators. Three complementary sampling techniques were used to assess changes in spider assemblages in both soil and vegetation strata, over time (diachronic comparison of managed unit before vs. after management) and space (synchronic comparison of managed vs. control units). Few effects of grazing, i.e. only one significantly indicative species, were found on assemblage composition (ANOSIM), and none on abundances, α– and β– diversities (GLM on pitfall trap data). On the contrary, important differences were found between units before management took place. The main effects of grazing management were revealed over time (after one year), and not between managed and control units (CCA on pitfall trap data and X²–tests on guilds from each sampling method), showing the relevance of a diachronic approach more than a synchronic approach in such management monitoring. Grazing by horses could be relevant to manage meadows because it creates a high spatial heterogeneity, but further (long–term) studies including other model groups are required.

Key words

Indicators, Management, Synchronic and diachronic approaches, Araneae, Brittany

Reception date: 10 VIII 16 | Acceptation date: 9 VI 17 | Publication date: 24 X 17

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