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December 11, 2012

DWU’s Brian Patrick publishes article in Journal of Arachnology

MITCHELL — Brian Patrick, assistant professor of biology at Dakota Wesleyan University, recently had a paper published in the Journal of Arachnology.

The article, Epigeal Spider Responses to Fertilization and Plant Litter: Testing Biodiversity Theory at the Ground Level,” was published in the November issue.

“I studied how extra nitrogen affected the diversity of spiders and plants in a former hay meadow in northeast Ohio,” Patrick said. “Specifically, I studied the spiders that wander (as opposed to making webs), and generally rely on prey that are not directly dependent on the living plants in the field. I found that the extra nutrients did significantly affect spiders and plants, but not necessarily as would be predicted by current theory. Instead of increasing the abundance and lowering the diversity of spiders, the nutrient additions actually generally increased the diversity of the spiders. However, plants did respond as predicted — with increased abundance and with decreased diversity.”

By looking at the part of the food web that is only indirectly tied to living plants, he found that the current theories need revision to include a broader range of organisms than had currently been included. This research can help rangeland managers maximize the diversity in their fields.

“This would be desirable because the higher the diversity in their fields, generally the less money is needed to maintain those fields, particularly for pests,” Patrick said.

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  For more information about Dakota Wesleyan University, visit www.dwu.edu.


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