Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science


School of Natural Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Professor Adrianne Kinnear

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Mawson

Third Advisor

Dr Barbara York lv1ain


The rare and endemic Trapdoor spider Aganippe castellum (Main, 1986) is currently distributed across the north-eastern West Australian wheatbelt. The sedentary nature of A castellum makes it susceptible to changes in soil and litter, and specifically to sheet flooding and fire events. Studies have shown that spider abundances, species richness and composition are strongly influenced by ve1etation density (Hatley & MacMahon, 1980), and the depth and complexity of the leaf litter layer (Uetz, 1991). Therefore, although all known populations of A. castellum are closed to grazing, any alterations to these vegetation characteristics (in addition to the previous large-scale clearing in Western Australia) may threaten the success of the populations. With most of the remaining populations found in remnant bushland areas either on nature reserves, road verges or private property and these populations suspected to be in decline it was essential that the species' ecology be investigated in order to facilitate a management plan. This was attempted during this study through first establishing the current distribution and abundances of populations of A. castellum which required the development of a method which determined spider presence, and then sampling of the habitat and microhabitat within the four study populations and the one extinct population.