Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 2139–2150 | Cite as

Large and least isolated fragments preserve habitat specialist spiders best in dry sandy grasslands in Hungary

  • Roland Horváth
  • Tibor Magura
  • Csaba Szinetár
  • János Eichardt
  • Béla Tóthmérész
Original Paper


The role of fragment size, isolation and habitat diversity in the conservation of spider assemblages living in fragmented landscape were studied in dry sandy grasslands (East Hungary, Nyírség). Spiders were collected using pitfall traps at eight dry grassland fragments from 2001 to 2009 from March to October fortnightly. We tested the rules of island biogeography, which suggest that the species richness increases with the size and decreases with the isolation of fragments. The habitat diversity is an important factor for species richness, since large areas usually have more habitats; therefore, the number of species may be higher in these areas. During the 9-year study period, altogether 10,544 individuals belonging to 106 species were collected. Contradicting the classical theory, we found a significant negative relationship between the total number of spider species and the grassland size, while the ratio of sandy grassland specialist spider species increased with fragment size. The relationship between the ratio of generalist species and the fragment size was not significant. The overall species richness and the isolation of studied grasslands did not show a significant relationship. The ratio of sandy grassland specialist species decreased, while the ratio of generalist species increased with the increasing of isolation. The habitat diversity did not show any effect on spider species richness. We concluded that to conserve the habitat specialist species it is recommended to preserve the large and least isolated grassland fragments, furthermore to increase the size of small fragments with the restoration of the adjacent croplands.


Island biogeography Fragmentation Species richness Sandy grassland specialist species Generalist species Habitat heterogeneity 



This study was part of the National Biodiversity Monitoring System in Hungary funded by the Ministry of Environment and Water. We are grateful for P. Batáry for proposals improving the manuscript. We thank Zoltán Elek, Tivadar Molnár and Viktor Ködöböcz for field assistance. RH was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The work is supported by the TÁMOP 4.2.1./B-09/1/KONV-2010-0007, and TÁMOP-4.2.2/B-10/1-2010-0024 projects.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roland Horváth
    • 1
  • Tibor Magura
    • 2
  • Csaba Szinetár
    • 3
  • János Eichardt
    • 3
  • Béla Tóthmérész
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Hortobágy National Park DirectorateDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of West HungarySzombathelyHungary

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