Diversity, Phylogeny and Trophic Ecology of Arboreal Spider (Araneae) Assemblages along a Transformation Gradient from Lowland Rainforest to Oil Palm Plantations in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia

Spiders are the most important predator guild in tropical forest ecosystems. As top predators in the invertebrate food web, such, they have sophisticated effects on agricultural pests and the decomposer system. In turn, spiders are preyed upon by a vast range of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrate parasitoids. Thus, changes in land-use from lowland rainforest to rubber and oil palm plantations are not only going to affect diversity and community compositions of spiders alone, but will entail cascading effects through the entire food web. This, in turn, is likely to have dramatic effects on the ecosystem functions and services of entire agricultural ecosystems. In the proposed research, I will thus study the cascading impact of rainforest conversion on ecosystem services in jungle rubber as well as plantations of oil palm and rubber by focusing on arboreal canopy spider assemblages.