July 9, 2010

Night Walks for Spiders

At night, armed with head lamps and UV torches (and a lot of bug spray), you can actually see tons of spiders and other nocturnal arthropods doing what they live for, i.e., eating, preying, mating, etc. without much search effort. During the daytime, you have to look harder for the various microhabitats; of course, it is easy see the orb weaver spiders as well as some other weavers and a few cursorial spiders but this is only a small portion of the total spider fauna.


On the other hand, at night, your headlamp lets you view the activity all around you: spiders on aerial vegetation, on tree bark, running on the ground, and if you play with the leaf litter, you’ll easily see critters moving around. That’s on 'normal' nights in any Neotropical rain forest but it looks like something is different tonight: None or very little activity the first night after the heavy rain this morning (at other times, an early rain should have promoted higher activity at night!). Surprisingly, we have not found any scorpions or adult tarantulas tonight. - Diana Silva, a curator of spiders at the Museo de Historia Natural

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The Biodiversity Institute is home to about 60 graduate students and 30 research scientists and curators. They participate in field expeditions to all seven continents and represent areas such as entomology, ornithology, paleontology, parasitology and herpetology. As the authors of this blog, they share their experiences and adventures in collections-based biological research all over the world.

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