Diversity and community similarity of arthropods in response to the restoration of former pine plantations

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Abstract Ecological restoration is becoming an increasingly important tool in humanity's attempt to manage, conserve, and repair the world's ecosystems. In the current study, the objective was to compare the effects of two restoration methods on arthropod biodiversity and community composition in two former pine plantations; these treatments included both intensive restoration effort (= cleared) and moderate restoration effort (= thinned). For the cleared treatment, vegetation was clear-cut to the soil surface, and all vegetation was removed from the plots, while the thinned treatment consisted of reducing the Pinus elliotii (Slash Pine) density to that of a native ecosystem and removing of all exotic plants from the plots as well. Arthropods were sampled by employing pitfall traps, sticky traps, and sweep netting and identified to family and morphospecies; species richness, diversity, and community similarity were compared between treatments and sites. Experimental treatments quickly reached or exceeded arthropod diversity and richness of an unmanipulated control treatment; however, the two sites produced non-overlapping ordination plots, suggesting that the diversity of the two sites are either compositionally different (alpha diversity) or community assemblage is incomplete and overall regional (beta) diversity has not reached an equilibrium across sites. Additional long-term data should reveal if these plots are proceeding along different successional trajectories in terms of community species composition, or whether treatments, while having similar richness, support different communities because the three types of plots used in this study (control, thinned, and cleared) represent various successional stages which affect arthropod species identity, but not overall richness.

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Southeastern Naturalist





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