Biodivers Conserv (2018) 27:2257–2274
Steeplebushes conquer the countryside: inﬂuence
of invasive plant species on spider communities
(Araneae) in former wet meadows
· Henning Haase
· Petra Gebauer
· Ricarda Lehmitz
Received: 17 July 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2018 / Accepted: 12 March 2018 /
Published online: 15 March 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Central European wet meadows are diminished by abandonment of cultiva-
tion measures, drainage, pollution, intensive agriculture and climate change during the
last decades. In addition, original wet meadow communities can be threatened by immi-
grating neophytes. Typical invasive species in wet meadows are the steeplebushes Spiraea
tomentosa and Spiraea douglasii, but their impact on the indigenous arthropod fauna is
unknown. The present study therefore investigates Spiraea-induced changes in ground- and
herb dwelling spiders in Spiraea sites, uncultivated meadows with interspersed Spiraea sp.
and mowed meadows without Spiraea sp. using pitfall traps and sweep netting. Light inten-
sity, vegetation height and coverage diﬀered signiﬁcantly between the Spiraea sites and
the mowed meadows. In consequence, the activity density of ground-dwelling spiders was
much lower in the Spiraea sites and their habitat preferences diﬀered signiﬁcantly from
the two meadow types. Species preferring forests and forest edges were more abundant
in invaded sites whereas specimens preferring open habitats decreased. Although the veg-
etation height and coverage of mowed meadows and cultivated meadows did not diﬀer
remarkably, uncultivated meadows contained less spiders of open dry habitats whereas for-
est species increased. In contrast, diﬀerences between herb dwelling spider assemblages of
the three habitat types were not signiﬁcant. Based on the results of the project, the risk of
steeple bush invasion and management methods of wet meadows are discussed.
Keywords Spiraea tomentosa · Spiraea douglasii · Neophytes · Vegetation structure ·
Light intensity · Central Europe
Communicated by David Hawksworth.
This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Invasive species.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1053
1-018-1536-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Birgit Balkenhol
Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz, Am Museum 1, 02826 Görlitz, Germany