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European Arachnologu 2002 (F. Samu & Cs. Szinetr eds.), pp, 129-141.

Plant Protection Institute & Berzsenyi College, Budapest, 2004.LSBN 963 214 791 X (Proceedings of the 20th European Colloquium of Arachnologv, Szombaihelu 22-26 July 2002)

The use o spiders as indicators of habitat quality and anthropogenic disturbance in Flanders, Belgium
JEAl\T-PIER..~EMAELFAIT1,2, LON BAER'f3, DRIES B01\'TE2,DOMIR DE BAKKER2, SHIRLEY GURDEBEKEZ & FREDERIK HENDRICKX2 1 Insttute o/ Naiure Conseroaiion, Kliniekstraat 25, 1070 Bruseels. Belgium (jean-pierre. maelfaitinstnat.be)
2 3

Terrestrial Ecology, Ghent Unversty,

K-L. Ledeganckstraat

35, 9000 Cheni, Belgium

Roual Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, De{Jartment of Eniomologu,

Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brus-

sels. Belgium

Abstract
A review of the last few decades of nature conservaton spider research in Handers, northern Belgium is provided. VVe show that spiders are very useful in site assessment and in monitoring the nature value and biodiversity of the several kinds of natural and semi-natural habitar types that occur in this regan. Studies en particular species show that these spiders can be good indicators of the detrirnental effects of human induced disturbances, such as fragmentation and pollution, on natural populations and ecosystems. Key words:
gium

spiders, bio-indicators,

habitar quality, biodiversity, anthropogenic

disturbance,

Bel-

INTRODUCTION The intent of this contribution is to provde a short review of the applied ecological research concerning spiders as bio-indicators of Flanders (northern part of Belgium) between 19752003..As a taxonomic group, spidcrs are vcry wel1 suited for use as bio-indicators in studies of habitat quality in terrestrial ecosysterns (Maclfait & Baert 1988ab; Maelfait 1996; Maclfait et al. 1989b). This 15 because spiders are a rather species rich group whch occur in the majcrity of terrestrial ecosy tems and even in some aquatic ones. Each species has its own
specific requirements regarding humiditv,

tenlperattlre regirne, litter and \Tegetation structure and o on. Thi... means that sHght changes in habitat quality cause importan+ changes in the spider assemblage composition. Furthermore, small changes in the spider composition of a habitat indicate changes in the

quality of that habitat. A practical reason to use spiders as bio-indicators is that they are easy to sample in a standardised manner, at a relativelv low costo We have used spider assemblage analysis to bio-indicate the natural value and the biodivcrsity content of a wide variety of habitat types. These investigations were, and are done within fue framework of nature conservaton and nature management in our regan. Vve give an overview of the more important results for each habitat type in the Results section. On the basis of all these investigations a Red List for the spiders of OUT regan was developed, in which a habitat characterisation was given for the threatened speoes, This Red List is dealt with in the Discossion and conclusions secrion. During more recent years, spiders were not only used as biodiversity and nature value indicators, but we also tried to understand individual species