On the nature of agrobiont spiders

Ferenc Samu, Csaba Szinetár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

124 Citations (Scopus)


Results from a 10 year survey of spiders in Hungarian arable and natural grassland habitats are cumulated in order to reveal the key characteristics of agrobiont species. We define agrobionts as species that reach high dominance in agroecosystems. The most dominant species, Pardosa agrestis, on average accounted for 40% of the total spider population in Hungarian arable fields. The presence of agrobionts led to a strong skew in arable spider community species distriibution. Regardless of the over-dominance by agrobionts, arable spider communities had a potential for very high species richness. The agrobiont segment of arable spider communities showed very little field-to-field or regional variation, i.e. the same agrobiont species occurred in all fields. Agrobionts were indicators of arable habitats, and were rare in other habitat types, but in many species preferences for specific natural habitat types could be shown. These natural habitat types were often strongly abiotically driven, frequently disturbed habitats. The life cycle of agrobionts showed synchronization with the arable crop-growing season. While many closely related non-agrobiont species had maturity and reproductive periods either earlier or later than the main crop vegetation period, agrobionts invariably reached adulthood and reproduced during that period. Association with frequently disturbed natural habitats and phenological synchronization with the annual arable disturbance regime are such traits that support the theory that agrobiont species are adapted to predictably ephemeral habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-402
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Arachnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Arable fields
  • Community structure
  • Cyclic colonization
  • Life history strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science

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