Chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is one of the economically more important trees in the north of Portugal. Spiders, as generalist predators, are potential controlling agents of pests, yet the composition of the community of spiders associated with this crop is only poorly known. The objective of this study was to determine the spider communities in the canopies of chestnut trees subject to three different soil management practices in northeastern Portugal. Three chestnut groves each subject to a different agricultural practice (grazed, tilled or untilled) were studied in 2008 and 2009. The Araneae communities were sampled by beating the branches and the individuals collected were identified to family and species when possible. To investigate the structure of the spider community in each grove the abundance and family richness of spiders were calculated and compared between managements. In total, 4172 spiders were collected and, in both years, the three most abundant families were Araneidae, Philodromidae and Linyphiidae. In 2008, there was a greater abundance of spiders in the grazed, followed by the tilled and untilled groves, but no significant differences among groves. However, in 2009 there was a greater abundance of spiders in the tilled grove, followed by grazed and untilled groves and the differences between the untilled and the other two groves were significant. Araniella, Oxyopes and Anyphaena were the most abundant genera in the three groves. This study showed that soil management may influence the diversity of spiders, but the effects were weak and not consistent between years. The reduction or absence of a suitable habitat for spiders under the trees in the tilled treatment might have resulted in the spiders migrating up into the canopy. However, based on the weak effects on spider abundance recorded and its potentially adverse effects on soils, tillage is not recommended for managing the incidence of pests in chestnut groves.
- Castanea sativa
- Pest control