Conservation and biodiversity of spiders in Western Australian jarrah forest: untangling multiple disturbance effects from burning and mining
Karl E.C. Brennan, Melinda L. Moir, Jonathan D. Majer, 2004. "Conservation and biodiversity of spiders in Western Australian jarrah forest: untangling multiple disturbance effects from burning and mining", Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, Daniel Lunney
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Conservation of Australian spiders has received scant attention to date. This chapter summarizes recent research on the biodiversity of spiders from the northern jarrah forest and their response to disturbance, in particular, the singular disturbances of burning or mining and the multiple disturbance of mining then burning. Jarrah forest spiders appear highly speciose, but taxonomically poorly known. Following burning, a significant change in species composition occurred between younger (0 and 3 years post-burning) and older (6 and 9 years post-burning) sites. Following mining, species composition was on a trajectory towards, but had not yet reached, the composition found in unmined forest sites. The multiple disturbance of mining followed by burning, while generally found to cause retrogression, was followed by a rapid recovery towards the species composition found in unmined forest sites. This suggests spider communities can display a high degree of resilience to disturbance. Further research is needed, however, on mygalomorphs and also on many other forms of disturbance. It is concluded that resolving poor taxonomic knowledge and determining responses to these disturbances, including multiple disturbances is critical for the conservation of the jarrah forest's diverse spider fauna. These issues have escaped the attention of many conservation biologists for far too long and this imbalance must be radically redressed. The future conservation of Australia's unique and splendidly diverse invertebrate fauna depends on it.