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Review article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Spider conservation in Europe: a review

Milano, Filippo; Blick, Theo; Cardoso, Pedro; Chatzaki, Maria; Fukushima, Caroline Sayuri; Gajdos, Peter; Gibbons, Alastair T.; Henriques, Sergio; Macias-Hernandez, Nuria; Mammola, Stefano; Nentwig, Wolfgang; Nolan, Myles; Petillon, Julien; Polchaninova, Nina; Rezac, Milan; Sandstrom, Jonas; Smith, Helen; Wisniewski, Konrad; Isaia, Marco


Despite their ecological importance and diversity, spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) are underrepresented in conservation policies in comparison to other groups. We review all extant conservation tools focusing on spiders in Europe, highlighting general patterns, limitations, gaps, and future directions. We assembled a comprehensive online database reporting all available information concerning the legal protection and conservation status of 4,154 spider species. Existing international legislation has limited coverage, with only one species listed in the Bern Convention and EU Habitats Directive. At the national and subnational levels, 178 species are formally mentioned in the legislation of 19 European countries. Moreover, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes assessments for 301 species worldwide, 164 of these threatened and eight native to Europe. In addition, spiders are mentioned in Regional Red Lists and Red Books in 28 out of 42 European countries considered in this review. Northern and Central European countries have the highest percentage of species assessed at the regional level in Red Lists and Red Books. The Mediterranean basin has the highest spider diversities in Europe but conservation efforts are lacking, both in terms of assessments and national or subnational legislation. Among European species, Dolomedes plantarius, Argyroneta aquatica and Eresus kollari are the most frequently mentioned in European conservation measures, possibly due to their ecological traits and their strict association with declining habitats. Considering the current threats to spiders in Europe, the protection of large areas of suitable habitat should be considered as the most effective approach to spider conservation.


IUCN; Invertebrate conservation; Araneae; Red List; Environmental Legislation; Threatened species

Published in

Biological Conservation
2021, Volume: 256, article number: 109020

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