Scale-dependent dispersal and distribution patterns of spiders in agricultural systems: A review

Ferenc Samu, Keith D. Sunderland, Csaba Szinetár

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

120 Citations (Scopus)


A conceptual framework is presented for the study of the factors affecting the distribution, dispersal and abundance of spiders in agricultural systems. It is useful to consider how factors operate at three levels of a spatial hierarchy, namely micro-habitat, habitat and landscape. The size and distribution of spider populations are determined by factors influencing survival, reproduction and dispersal. Modes of dispersal vary in terms of the efficiency of sampling new habitats and the level of risk. A literature survey of proximal factors (micro-climate, habitat structure, disturbance, prey availability, predation, and territoriality) affecting micro-habitat usage by spiders showed that the relative importance of these factors varied according to spider species. Spider abundance and diversity were found, in general, to be positively correlated with environmental diversity at different spatial scales. Within-field habitat diversifications were found to be more effective in increasing spider populations when interspersed throughout the crop (e.g., polycultures and reduced tillage) than when spatially segregated (e.g., strip management). Two approaches (modeling and experimental) to studying the effects of landscape level phenomena on spider distribution and abundance are discussed. Manipulation of habitats at the edge of fields has not, in the main, resulted in increased spider density within fields. Opportunities were identified for increasing regional populations of spiders, and optimizing pest control, by management of the annual shift in the crop mosaic to maximize spider transfer rates from senescing crops to young crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arachnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science

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