Spider assemblages across a gradient of disturbance severity in a northern temperate forest in Michigan

Project Overview
Project Abstract: 
The Forest Accelerated Succession Experiment (FASET) being studied by researchers at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) provides an opportunity to examine spider assemblages across a gradient of disturbance severity by mimicking potential effects of climate change, whether it is insect outbreaks or succession, .Our study aims to use the FASET plots as a simulation of what may happen when one or two dominant tree species die due to disturbances, specifically insect and pathogen outbreaks. The loss of a dominant and broadly distributed tree species results in a reduction of biodiversity and changes to the function and structure of the forest ecosystem (Latty et al. 2003). The FASET plots differ in disturbance severity based off the amount of basal area of Paper birch (Betula) and Aspen (Populus) senesced from girdling that began in 2008. Accordingly, in this study, we ask: 1. Will ground-dwelling spider diversity be influenced by the percent disturbance severity? To do so, several habitat characteristics will be accounted for. It is expected that the plots with higher disturbance severities will have a more diverse ground-dwelling spider assemblage. We will also include habitat characteristics that are known to affect spider assemblages; humidity, temperature, canopy cover, tree richness and evenness, coarse woody debris, and number of dead trees.
Investigator Info
Investigators: 
Funding agency: 
NSF-REU
Years research project active: 
2014