Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 605–620 | Cite as

Impact of the invasive moss Campylopus introflexus on carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneae) in acidic coastal dunes at the southern Baltic Sea

  • Jens Schirmel
  • Lars Timler
  • Sascha Buchholz
Original Paper


Campylopus introflexus is an invasive moss in Europe and North America that is adapted to acidic and nutrient-poor sandy soils with sparse vegetation. In habitats like acidic coastal dunes (grey dunes) it can reach high densities, build dense carpets and modify habitat conditions. While the impact of the moss invasion on the vegetation is well analyzed, there is a lack of knowledge regarding possible effects on arthropods. In the present study we analyzed the impact of Campylopus introflexus on the ground-dwelling arthropods carabid beetles and spiders, as both taxa are known to be useful indicator taxa even on a small-scale level. In 2009 we compared species composition in a) invaded, moss-rich (C. introflexus) and b) native, lichen-rich (Cladonia spp.) acidic coastal dunes by using pitfall traps. A total of 1,846 carabid beetles (39 species) and 2,682 spiders (66 species) were caught. Species richness of both taxa and activity densities of spiders were lower in invaded sites. Species assemblages of carabids and spiders differed clearly between the two habitat types and single species were displaced by the moss encroachment. Phytophagous carabid beetles, web-building spiders and wolf spiders were more abundant in native, lichen-rich sites. Shifts in species composition can be explained by differences in the vegetation structure, microclimate conditions and most likely a reduced food supply in invaded sites. By forming dense carpets and covering large areas, the moss invasion strongly alters typical arthropod assemblages of endangered and protected (EU-directive) acidic coastal dunes.


Microclimate Moss-encroachment Neophytic moss Species richness Vegetation structure 



The authors would like to thank J. Schalajda, R. Baumgartner and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The study was conducted as part of the research project “Biodiversity, Ecology and Management of Coastal Habitats of the Baltic Sea” and financially supported by the Bauer-Hollmann-Foundation. We are grateful to the national park “Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft” for the permission to conduct the study in the protected area.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Station Isle of HiddenseeUniversity of GreifswaldIsle of HiddenseeGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biodiversity DynamicsTU BerlinBerlinGermany

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