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Community Ecology
Authors: B. Tajthi, R. Horváth, Sz. Mizser, D. D. Nagy, and B. Tóthmérész

Urban areas have been growing radically worldwide, causing considerable changes in biodiversity of natural habitats. In floodplain forests, we studied the effects of urbanization on ground-dwelling spider assemblages along a rural–suburban–urban gradient in Hungary. We tested three traditional hypotheses (intermediate disturbance hypothesis, habitat specialist hypothesis and hygrophilous species hypothesis) and two novel expectations (shade-preferring species hypothesis, and disturbance sensitive species hypothesis) on spiders. We found that the total number of species was higher in the suburban habitat than in rural and urban ones, supporting the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. We found a decrease in the species richness of forest specialist and shade-preferring species along the urbanization gradient. We found that the number of hygrophilous and disturbance sensitive species was the lowest in the urban habitat. The spider assemblages of the rural and suburban habitats were clearly separated from the assemblages of urban habitats. Based on our findings we emphasize that low and moderate intensity of forest management contributes to the preservation of the local species richness in floodplain forests.

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