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Spiders in canopy and ground microhabitats are robust to changes in understory vegetation management practices in mature oil palm plantations (Riau, Indonesia)

Pashkevich, Michael D.; Spear, Dakota M.; Advento, Andreas Dwi; Caliman, Jean Pierre; Foster, William A.; Luke, Sarah H.; Naim, Mohammad; Ps, Sudharto; Snaddon, Jake L.; Turner, Edgar C.


Michael D. Pashkevich

Dakota M. Spear

Andreas Dwi Advento

Jean Pierre Caliman

William A. Foster

Assistant Professor

Mohammad Naim

Sudharto Ps

Jake L. Snaddon

Edgar C. Turner


Conversion of natural habitats to oil palm agriculture has caused declines in biodiversity and changes in ecosystem functions. To preserve biodiversity we must protect natural habitats, but once oil palm plantations are established, developing more-environmentally friendly management strategies could support higher levels of within-plantation biodiversity and boost the delivery of ecosystem services, possibly increasing oil palm productivity. In this study, we use a before-after control-impact (BACI) experiment to test whether three understory vegetation management strategies affect spider abundance, species richness, and species-level community composition in canopy and ground microhabitats in mature oil palm plantations. Our treatments encompassed the range of current management practices and included heavy applications of herbicides to eliminate all understory vegetation, maintaining some understory vegetation using business-as-usual herbicide applications, and enhancing understory vegetation by not applying any herbicides. We focussed on spiders, as they are both biologically and economically important in oil palm plantations, owing to their important pest control services. We identified more than 1000 spiders, representing 20 families and 83 morphospecies. The treatments did not affect any aspects of spider biodiversity, although the abundance and species richness of canopy-dwelling spiders changed between pre- and post-treatment sample periods, independent of treatment. Our findings indicate that differences in understory vegetation management practices do not affect spiders, or the pest management services that they provide, in mature oil palm plantations. As such, more extreme changes in management would probably be required to enhance spider biodiversity in oil palm plantations in the long-term. Further studies are needed to determine the practicalities of such approaches, to assess how changes in vegetation management practices affect spiders in additional microhabitats, and how the impacts of such approaches vary across the 20–30 year oil palm commercial life cycle.


Pashkevich, M. D., Spear, D. M., Advento, A. D., Caliman, J. P., Foster, W. A., Luke, S. H., …Turner, E. C. (2022). Spiders in canopy and ground microhabitats are robust to changes in understory vegetation management practices in mature oil palm plantations (Riau, Indonesia). Basic and Applied Ecology, 64, 120-133.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 9, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 11, 2022
Publication Date Nov 1, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 16, 2022
Journal Basic and Applied Ecology
Print ISSN 1439-1791
Electronic ISSN 1618-0089
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 64
Pages 120-133
Keywords Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Public URL
Publisher URL


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