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Article

Five-Year Monitoring of a Desert Burrow-Dwelling Spider Following an Environmental Disaster Indicates Long-Term Impacts

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The National Natural History Collections, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
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The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
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French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, Midreshet Ben-Gurion 8499000, Israel
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Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Midreshet Ben-Gurion 8499000, Israel
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Dead-Sea & Arava Science Center, Yotvata 8882000, Israel
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The Scorpion Research Lab, Hoopoe Ornithology & Ecology, Yeroham 8051875, Israel
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Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, 12 Klausner St., Tel Aviv 6139001, Israel
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División Aracnología, Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”—CONICET. Av. Ángel Gallardo 470, Buenos Aires C1405DJR, Argentina
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sean E. Walker
Insects 2022, 13(1), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010101
Received: 1 November 2021 / Revised: 4 January 2022 / Accepted: 11 January 2022 / Published: 17 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arthropods in Desert Ecosystems)
Deserts are characterized by unpredictable precipitation, extreme temperatures, and plants and animals that are specialized to live in these habitats. Consequently, desert organisms often recover slowly, if at all, from human-induced environmental disasters. We studied the effects of two nearby oil spills from a broken pipeline, one that occurred in 1975 and another recent one in 2014, on a burrow-dwelling spider in the extreme desert of the ‘Arava valley (Israel). We compared the abundance of spider burrows in plots contaminated by the oil with nearby unaffected plots over a 4-year period. The abundance was significantly lower in plots with oil-contaminated soil, both in the recent (2014) oil spill area and in the area affected by the 1975 spill. In the laboratory, we found that when offered oil-contaminated versus clean desert soil substrates, spiders chose the clean soil substrate. We conclude that the populations of this burrow-dwelling spider were affected negatively by the oil spills and, furthermore, showed long-lasting impacts from a 40-year-old spill. We propose that burrow-dwelling spiders can be used as effective bioindicators of persistent soil pollution in desert habitats.
Deserts are characterized by unpredictable precipitation and extreme temperatures. Their fauna and flora are sensitive to anthropogenic environmental changes, and often recover slowly from environmental disasters. The effects of oil spills on the biota of desert regions, however, have scarcely been studied. We predicted that terrestrial invertebrates suffer long-term negative effects from an oil spill, due to their close association with the substrate. Thus, we investigated the effects of two oil spills that occurred in 1975 and 2014 in the hyper-arid ‘Arava desert (Israel), on a spider that constructs silk-lined nests in burrows in compact, sandy soil in this extreme desert habitat. The spider, Sahastata aravaensis sp. nov. (Filistatidae), is described herein. We assessed spider burrow abundance in plots located in oil-contaminated and nearby uncontaminated clean soil (control) areas over five consecutive years and measured habitat characteristics in these plots. In the laboratory, we determined the preference of individuals for clean vs. oil-contaminated soil as a resting substrate. Finally, as this species was previously undescribed, we added a new species description. The abundance of Sahastata was significantly lower in oil-contaminated plots, and this was the case in the 40-year-old oil spill (1975) as well as in the recent one (2014). In laboratory tests, spiders showed a significant preference for the clean soil substrate over the oil-contaminated substrate. In the field, soil crust hardness and vegetation density did not differ significantly between oil-contaminated and control plots, but these measures were highly variable. The burrows were significantly clustered, suggesting that the young disperse only short distances. In the laboratory adult spiders did not dig burrows, perhaps indicating that adults remain permanently in their natal burrows and that in the field they may use vacant burrows. We conclude that Sahastata populations were affected negatively by the oil spills and these effects were long-lasting. We propose that by monitoring their spatial distribution, burrow-dwelling spiders such as Sahastata can be used as effective bioindicators of soil pollution in desert habitats. View Full-Text
Keywords: Araneae; ‘Avrona; ‘Arava valley; bioindicator; hyper-arid; Filistatidae; oil-spill; Sahastata Araneae; ‘Avrona; ‘Arava valley; bioindicator; hyper-arid; Filistatidae; oil-spill; Sahastata
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gavish-Regev, E.; Armiach Steinpress, I.; Salman, I.N.A.; Segev, N.; Uzan, A.; Byun, Y.; Levy, T.; Aharon, S.; Zvik, Y.; Shtuhin, R.; Shapira, Y.; Majer, M.; Ganem, Z.; Zonstein, S.; Magalhaes, I.L.F.; Lubin, Y. Five-Year Monitoring of a Desert Burrow-Dwelling Spider Following an Environmental Disaster Indicates Long-Term Impacts. Insects 2022, 13, 101. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010101

AMA Style

Gavish-Regev E, Armiach Steinpress I, Salman INA, Segev N, Uzan A, Byun Y, Levy T, Aharon S, Zvik Y, Shtuhin R, Shapira Y, Majer M, Ganem Z, Zonstein S, Magalhaes ILF, Lubin Y. Five-Year Monitoring of a Desert Burrow-Dwelling Spider Following an Environmental Disaster Indicates Long-Term Impacts. Insects. 2022; 13(1):101. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010101

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gavish-Regev, Efrat, Igor Armiach Steinpress, Ibrahim N. A. Salman, Nitzan Segev, Assaf Uzan, Yebin Byun, Tanya Levy, Shlomi Aharon, Yoram Zvik, Raisa Shtuhin, Yotam Shapira, Marija Majer, Zeana Ganem, Sergei Zonstein, Ivan L. F. Magalhaes, and Yael Lubin. 2022. "Five-Year Monitoring of a Desert Burrow-Dwelling Spider Following an Environmental Disaster Indicates Long-Term Impacts" Insects 13, no. 1: 101. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010101

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