Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 583–606 | Cite as

Arthropod assemblages deep in natural forests show different responses to surrounding land use

  • Rudi Crispin Swart
  • James Stephen Pryke
  • Francois Roets
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


Many contemporary landscapes have vast areas of production land-uses within landscape mosaics, which may impact species dispersal and occurrence. Here, we determined the extent to which commercial exotic plantation forests affect arthropod diversity associated with natural Afrotemperate forests in the southern Cape Afrotemperate landscape mosaic, South Africa. Natural forests and fynbos vegetation naturally coexist here, with the addition of exotic plantation forests to form a heterogeneous landscape. Epigaeic arthropods were collected by means of pitfall trapping at stations along transects from inside natural Afrotemperate forest, across the edge and into the surrounding land use, which included natural fynbos vegetation, mature forestry plantation blocks (Pinus radiata) and areas where plantations have been clear-felled. Stations were set at 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50 m to both sides of the forest edge with the addition of 100 m stations situated in the natural forest. Arthropod assemblages were distinct in all land-use types. Natural edge effect between forest and fynbos, as measured by arthropod compositional changes, was 20 m into natural forests, yet when bordered by plantations this edge increased up to 30 m into the forest. Once plantations were clear-felled, edge effects increased up to 50 m into natural forests. Responses in terms of assemblage composition and species richness were however taxon specific. Results show that (1) pine plantations are not alternative habitat for native Afrotemperate forest arthropods, (2) there were stark changes in arthropod assemblage composition at edges between these land-use types and (3) that the effects of timber plantation practices (re: clear-felling) also penetrate deep into surrounding natural forests and need to be considered in regional landscape planning. The need for an effective rehabilitation strategy of clear-felled areas is identified as key priority for bordering natural forests. Ongoing monitoring in both the disturbed area and the adjoining natural forest should be undertaken to ensure sufficient recovery.


Afrotemperate forest Forest arthropods Mosaic landscape Ecotones Plantation forestry 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (Grant numbers SFH13090332614; SFH150723130214) and Stellenbosch University. We thank SANparks and CapePine for allowing access to their properties, and Mr. Andries Cilliers and Mr. Wilfred Oraai for help in the field. We also thank Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman for her help with Arachnida identifications.

Supplementary material

10531_2017_1451_MOESM1_ESM.docx (134 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 134 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Conservation Ecology and EntomologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa

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