The impact of grazing on communities of ground-dwelling spiders (Araneae) in upland vegetation types

  • Published source details McFerran D.M., Montgomery W.I. & McAdam J.H. (1994) The impact of grazing on communities of ground-dwelling spiders (Araneae) in upland vegetation types. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 94, 119-126.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain upland heath/moorland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Maintain upland heath/moorland

    An unreplicated controlled trial from 1986 to 1990 at a site in County Antrim, Northern Ireland (McFerran et al. 1994) found that the impact of grazing on upland ground-dwelling spider (Araneae) communities varied between vegetation types. The study compared the impact of no grazing, grazing by rabbits/hares (Lagomorpha) and grazing by all herbivores (up to three sheep/ha) on different vegetation types: grass heath, upland grass, wet heath, heather moorland and reseeded pasture. On grass heath, most spiders were found on ungrazed plots (91), while on wet heath, most spiders were found on heavily grazed plots (137). Highly mobile and ‘pioneer’ spider species were most abundant in heavily grazed plots. Litter-dwelling spider species were relatively rare on heavily grazed grassland plots, and one litter dwelling species was significantly more abundant on ungrazed or lightly grazed plots. Plants were surveyed in July 1989 and July 1990, and spiders were sampled using pitfall traps emptied at 2-4 week intervals between October 1988 and September 1990.


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