Sand country ecology: The hedgehog population and invertebrate fauna of the west coast sand dunes
It is convenient to divide the sand dunes into three zones, characterized by their vegetation, and the invertebrate fauna, which largely depends on the plants for cover and food, can also be divided into these three zones.
The first of these zones nearest the sea is the belt characterized by a sparse covering of marram grass, beach silver grass or pingao. These plants provide very little cover or insulation and produce no litter; as a result the surface temperature of the sand may fluctuate violently throughout the day. During mid-summer it may range from 120 °F. to 60 °F., but despite this some animals are found here, the most frequently occurring ones being burrowing centipedes and ants, digging wasps (Salius spp.), tiger beetles (Cicindella spp.) and their larvae. An important element of this zone is the occasional piece of driftwood or seaweed which gives cover to sandhoppers (Talorchestia spp.), the littoral earwig (Anisolabus littoralis), slaters, termites, the katipo (Latrodectus katipo), the large caterpillars of the sand scarab (Pericoptus truncatus), as well as many species of mosquitoes, sand flies and the kelp fly (Coelopa littoralis). These invertebrates attract pipits, plovers, sparrows, chaffinches and other birds by day and hedgehogs at night. Slim grass spiders build their webs in the beach grasses and take advantage of the many small dipterans blown in from the foreshore.