Ground invertebrates such as spiders react to changing conditions in their terrestrial environments. Due to climate change, changes of species diversity, community composition and ecological traits (e.g., habitat specialization) can be assumed. Since it is often impossible or impracticable to carry out large-scale investigations concerning the impact of microclimate change on soil arthropods, studies on responses of arthropod communities to simulated climate change at a smaller scale may be a useful alternative. I conducted a field experiment to detect potential changes in species richness, community structure and ecological traits of spiders caused by prolonged drought. In a semi-dry grassland/Juniperus communis heath complex, five 16-m2 plots were subjected to either a drought (excluding all rain) or non-drought treatment. Activity densities of spiders were measured using pitfall traps from July to September, 2008. Although differences in microclimate between treatments were significant, no significant treatment effect on either species richness or activity densities was found. Ordination analyses (NMDS) and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed no significant difference in assemblage composition between the treatments, nor were any changes in ecological traits detected. Spiders were not a suitable model group for detecting any changes in the present study, but comparable experiments yielded changes for at least some spider families and especially for microarthropods. For future small-scale studies I recommend a multi-species group approach with micro- and macroarthropods, using a broad spectrum of sampling techniques.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2