Ground-active arthropod response to distance from the Mediterranean seashore in coastal sand areas of western Israel

Information on the effects of distance from the seashore on soil biotic communities is limited and restricted to soil arthropods and microarthropods. The aim of this study, conducted in a sand-dune area, was to distinguish the changes of a ground-active arthropod community along a 4-km-transect from the seashore going inland. Pitfall traps were set up in open spaces at four locations (L1, through L2, L3, and L4 going inland) through the year. The abiotic gradient from the seashore going inland was found to be mostly dependent on seasonality. Group richness was found to be remarkably greater at the L2, L3, and L4 locations compared with the L1 location in winter, and at the L2 and L3 locations compared with the L1 location in spring. The Fisher α index was 0.32 ± 0.21, 3.51 ± 0.87, 5.04 ± 0.70, and 4.86 ± 0.54 in winter and 3.29 ± 0.55, 13.79 ± 1.49, 10.12 ± 1.24, and 5.06 ± 0.62 in spring at the L1, L2, L3, and L4 locations, respectively. Regarding abundance and group richness, the trophic relationships between predators, phytophages, omnivores, and saprophages were remarkably affected by both location and seasonality. The dominant groups and dominant index distribution of ground-active arthropod communities were found to follow a similar pattern. Soil organic carbon content was found to be the key factor driving the ground-active arthropod community structure along a coastal gradient going inland in winter and spring. We conclude that the distribution, trophic composition, and diversity index are affected by both location and seasonality, while total abundance is consistently affected by location across all three seasons.