Rentao Liu, Fan Zhu, Yosef Steinberger. 2016. Changes in ground-dwelling arthropods diversity related to the proximity of shrub cover in a desertified system. Journal of Arid Environments, 124(C): 172-179.DOI：10.1016/j.jaridenv.2015.08.014Abstract
Shrub patchiness generates spatial heterogeneity across a range of spatial scales. Little is known about shrub patch effects on ground-dwelling arthropod diversity on small spatial scales. Using pitfall trapping, ground-dwelling arthropods were collected at three microsites (i.e., beneath and on the periphery of the shrub canopy, and in open spaces) during spring, summer and autumn, in a desertified steppe ecosystem of northwestern China. Along with the distance away from shrub cover, the abundance of dominant groups, including Carabidae, Tenebrionidae, and Glaphyridae families, tended to decrease and was remarkably affected by seasonality, in contrast to the abundance distribution pattern of dominant Melolonthidae, Curculionidae, and Formicidae families. The distribution pattern of total abundance, group richness and Fisher’s α index among the microsites was also found to be affected by the seasonality. Together, the abundance distribution of different dominant taxa was found to indicate distinctive responses to the microsite and seasonal variability. The distribution pattern of the ground-dwelling arthropod community among the microsites could change along with seasonality, though a high diversity was found to be maintained beneath the shrub cover. This study elucidated the importance of plant-cover functions as ‘keystone structures’, providing heterogeneous microsite-soil arthropod relationship that altered in time and space in xeric environments.
Key words:ground-dwelling arthropod, shrub microhabitat, community diversity, desertified steppe