Spiders on the decline due to human impact

Last Updated: Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 00:39

Washington: Researchers from the King Juan Carlos University (URJC) have found that spiders, like many other animal species, are suffering from habitat loss and human encroachment.
"The abundance and number of spider species is negatively affected by the impact of many human land uses, such as habitat fragmentation, fire and pesticides", said Samuel Prieto-Benítez and Marcos Mendez.

Until now, fewer than 20 percent of a total of 173 scientific papers published since 1980 have indicated any negative effects of human impact on arachnids.

The study demonstrates "evident" damaging effects on spider numbers due to the use of soil in farming and pasture systems. "In woodlands this was not so clear", the study explains.

The study proposes some solutions for spider conservation. A reduction in mechanical alterations to the land, such as harvesting, ploughing and grazing would increase spider diversity in agricultural and pastural ecosystems. In addition, the use of insecticides should be more controlled, as in organic farming, and habitat fragmentation should be avoided.

According to the authors, although "they do not enjoy an excessive level of public sympathy", spiders are an important animal group for humans, since they free us of a large number of pest insects and are "very important" predators in the functioning of natural systems.

The study has been published in Biological Conservation.


First Published: Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 00:39

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