Summary for Alopecosa fabrilis (Araneae)
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About this speciesDistribution
The spider has been recorded at three distinct sites, in two small areas of Morden Heath, Dorset, and on Hankley Common, Surrey. Each occupied a small area, and, since the spider is large, the population density is low and therefore vulnerable.It has also been recorded from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Poland, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the Balkans.
Habitat and ecology
Heathland. A. fabrilis inhabits a burrow in sandy soil or holes under stones. The preferred habitat is dry sandy heathland with some open stony areas. It has also been found wandering on ploughed firebreaks but may not be resident in such habitat. The habitat at Morden Heath consisted of largely open stony areas near the top of a hill and at the sides of gullies. Bare areas were partly caused by mililitary training in the war. Both sexes are adult in September and October, and females probably over-winter.
UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species. The spider has not been recorded at any location since before 1992, and there are no records from Bloxworth Heath since 1900 or Morden Heath since 1965. The number of locations with extant populations of the species has apparently declined by 100%, although there has been an unconfirmed report from Hankley Common in recent years. However, populations are likely to be small and survey work to ascertain its current status is urgently needed.
Pine and birch trees encroaching. Fire may also pose a threat.
Management and conservation
Because of the vulnerability of the localised spider populations, fire is unsuitable as a management tool, and regular removal of the invading pines by hand-pulling should be undertaken. This regime may lead to a build up of litter and humus. Thus further management to restore patches of bare stony ground may be necessary, possibly by localised grazing. At Hankley Common, small-scale disturbance of the vegetation in the course of army training exercises may be maintaining the desired habitat.
Text based on Dawson, I.K., Harvey, P.R., Merrett, P. & Russell-Smith, A.R. (in prep.). References