Alston Lippert, Simon Lowen, Lydia Soifer
Faculty Sponsor: Kevin Smith
Habitat destruction can cause both random and nonrandom extinction. If random extinction occurs, the probability of extinction for a given species is based solely on its abundance and can be predicted using a simulation. This project expands on arthropod richness data obtained from Kevin Smith and Ryan Almeida’s 2017 experiment. In this experiment, arthropod communities were surveyed in 19 mesocosms before, immediately after, and three weeks after 50% habitat destruction in tenof the mesocosms. We specifically observed the effects of this destruction with regards to the order Araneae. Utilizing a rarefaction simulation developed in R, we calculated the probability of random extinction for each morphospecies and estimated species richness post habitat destruction. Two species with extremely low abundances went extinct, as predicted; one species had an unexpected population increase immediately after the disturbance which then returned to initial levels after three weeks; and three species colonized the mesocosms immediately after the disturbance but disappeared after three weeks. Overall, the simulation underestimated richness immediately after the disturbance due to colonization, while providing a relatively accurate estimation of richness three weeks after the disturbance. Habitat destruction may temporarily create niches for carnivorous spiders. After a period of time, lag time extinctions occurred due to reduced resources.