The structure of an ecological community is shaped by diverse factors and processes, including competition for resources between species with similar ecological niches. Species coexistence in the face of competition is achieved by various mechanisms, such as niche partitioning, e.g. division of resources in space and time. We studied the effect of environmental variables on activity-density of the four lycosid species found in a Mediterranean shrubland in Israel, in the spring of 2012. We tested if spatial and temporal niche partitioning enables coexistence among the four ecologically similar lycosid spiders, using multivariate analyses (RDA, Species Response Curves and Trait Analysis (RLQ)) of vegetation structure, habitat characteristics and land use, as well as time in the season. Activity-density was significantly affected by time in the season and the interaction of time and geophyte density. These findings provide first insights into the life cycles of lycosid species in Mediterranean shrublands in Israel, with spider species of the same size-group reaching their activity peaks at different times.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to thank Prof. Yael Lubin and Iris Musli (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), for discussions, comments and help in identifications. This study was supported by The Israel Taxonomy Initiative (ITI) fellowship to IA, we wish to acknowledge the Israeli ministry of Science, Culture and Sport for supporting the national collections of natural history at Tel Aviv University as a biodiversity, environment and agriculture research knowledge centre. We thank Itay Kahana for help with material sorting and the many people who provided us with additional specimens from throughout Israel.
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- Niche partitioning
- Species assemblage
- Wolf spiders