Influence of Forest Fragment Compositional and Structural Heterogeneity on Ground-Dwelling Arthropod Communities

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

132nd Annual Meeting of the Indiana Academy of Science

Conference Location

Indianapolis, IN


Due to agricultural, urban, and suburban development, forests in the Midwest are often limited to small patches of habitat that are typically isolated. As such, forest conservation efforts are usually conducted by private land owners or organizations, which can be as disjunct as the forests themselves. As part of an established forest ecosystem, ground dwelling arthropod communities can be used as indicators of forest health. In this study, ground dwelling arthropods were collected from ten protected properties across northeast Indiana. Ground dwelling arthropods were periodically sampled via pitfall trapping in May and August 2016. Physical characteristics of the forests were measured to categorize forest structure and composition. Forest types were determined by tree importance values around trapping locations. Arthropod richness and diversity were compared across forest environmental and spatial characteristics. Eight of the ten forests were Sugar Maple types, which is the most common type in northeast Indiana. While there were variations in overstory composition, these forests are likely at the same successional stages (i.e. similar canopy closure, litter and fine woody debris deposition). Results suggest that ground dwelling arthropod communities are relatively similar across the properties. Findings from this study can be used to craft focused and deliberate conservation strategies for regional or state-level organizations. Because the majority of the forests were Sugar Maple types, broad regional conservation strategies may be helpful for land owners. However, we also found Red Maple and Northern Red Oak forest types, so there is a need for tailored strategies for some properties.



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