Date: December 9, 2016
Source: University of Adelaide
Recent surveys by Australian scientists have identified an apparent significant decline in the numbers of trapdoor spiders across southern Australia.
Famous for their carefully camouflaged burrows -- some with lids or 'trapdoors' from which they launch themselves to catch their prey -- trapdoor spiders are remarkable animals. The females of some species are known to live in the same burrow for more than 25 years.
Led by the University of Adelaide, in collaboration with the Western Australian Museum, the Queensland Museum, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (WA) and The University of Western Australia, the scientists have compared numbers of trapdoors at various locations across Australia's southern agricultural and arid zones with survey data from the 1950s to the present. The findings have been published in the journal Austral Entomology.
"We have good historical records of trapdoor spiders going back 60 years which showed population numbers were reasonably good, but recent surveys of the same areas show numbers are extremely low, and in some cases spiders are completely absent," says project leader Professor Andrew Austin, from the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Evolution Biology and Biodiversity.