New Spiders for Saba

This article is from BioNews 10 – November 2013. See all BioNews issues here.

new-spider-sabaSABA — During the entire month of October, the annual ‘Sea & Learn’ event took place on Saba. People travel from all over the world to the island to see experts present their findings and learn about nature. During the day, fieldtrips are organised and in the evening presentations are given by leading scientists on their field of expertise, often accompanied by a well-deserved dinner.

From orchids to birds and spiders and from seaweed to corals and fish; every topic was touched on at least one day. During one of the fieldtrips, even two new species of spider were discovered on Saba by arachnid expert Dr. Lauren Esposito.

According to Dr. Esposito the discovery is not that surprising, since Saba is a “hotspot” of biodiversity in the Caribbean. A previous study showed that Saba had more species of arachnids than surrounding islands, even though Saba is much smaller. It’s Saba’s unique features of steepness and altitude that account for this. In geological terms, Saba has never been part of a larger landmass, and its spider species composition turns out to be more related to that of the Virgin Islands than islands that are geographically closer.

esposito-presentationOf Saba’s two new spider species, one is of the Ochyroceratidae family, which are tiny with long legs, a distinctive purple body, and typically live under rocks. The other one is a new type of goblin spider. These specimens will undergo extensive genetic testing to categorise them properly before official recognition. Spiders in the Ochyroceratidae family tend to be endemic to single islands, but so far none have been described for Saba. It is estimated that only 10% of world spider population has been identified to date.

Source: Sea & Learn facebook page.

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