Beetle and spider community composition in threatened grassland fragments, cultural landscapes and pine plantations at Entabeni and Vuvha, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
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Pine plantations are considered a means of economic sustainability in South Africa. Yet over the years, pine trees can disperse and propagate independently of humans, occurring in natural areas, and have an adverse effect on native plant and invertebrate communities. Due to the ongoing what it seemed important to assess the effect that afforestation have on beetle and spider assemblages, and to assess if cultural landscape can be used to conserve biodiversity. We therefore used beetles and spiders which can act as good surrogates for habitat quality. Three habitat types: pine plantation, grassland, and cultural landscapes were sampled using 180 pitfall traps which were set for seven days (six pitfalls per replicate, ten replicates per habitat). A total of 736 (41 morphospecies) beetles’ and739 spiders including juveniles (36 species) were sampled. Araneae were found to be more abundant and species rich compared to the other species. Lycosidae sp.10 was the most abundant in the remnant grassland with a total of 58 individuals. Similar patterns were observed with the Carabidae and Scarabaeidae morphospecies with the Carabidae sp.01 more abundant in the pine site with a total of 106 individuals, Scarabaeidae sp.01 was most abundant in grassland with a total of 207 individuals, and Tenebrionidae sp.02 was most abundant at the cultural site with 43 individuals. A significant difference in morphospecies composition was found with the beetles and spiders, however there was no significant difference with the spiders between grassland-cultural landscapes, indicating possible persistence of assemblage under adverse conditions. This may be because all spiders sampled for this study are predatory, and are not necessarily affected by change in fragment size and differential disturbance.