Litter and ground dwelling spiders (Araneae: Arachnida) of reserve forests of Dooars, West Bengal
Litter, one of the forest habitats includes the layer of dead plant materials present on soil surface, comprising the surface litter (L-layer), the partially decomposing layer beneath it (F-layer) and the humus layer (H-layer). It plays a major role in the transfer of energy and nutrients in the forest ecosystem; litter fall data is often used to predict the productivity of ecosystem. The natural forest litter, surface and associated ground with its floral diversity and specialized micro niches support a variety of macro and micro arthropods including spiders through variations in moisture, cover materials, litter depth and structure. A strong correlation between species diversity of ground dwelling spiders and litter habitat is thought to exist because habitat affects spiders through prey availability, temperature fluctuation, moisture content and harborage. Ecological importance of spiders is undeniable as they are abundant predators of other forest litter arthropods. Globally people are laying emphasis on the studies of litter and ground dwelling spiders while India is yet to jump into. It is believed that the monograph is the first comprehensive study on the forest litter and ground dwelling spiders of the reserve forests of Dooars, West Bengal, India.