spider watching

Second and last post for today – and now I’m taking off for my afternoon walk in the woods as the sun is shining brightly and the temperature has climbed all the way up to -8C (12F).

There are a few of you who like to study spiders, so I just wanted to raise a bit of awareness about a new feature that David Shorthouse has been discussing as an addition to the Nearctic Spider Database. It would be a citizen scientist type of spider-watching program along the lines of such established programs as FrogWatch or IceWatch. At this point, David is asking for suggestions for a “Top Ten” list of spider species that would be suitable for such a program — easily identifiable spiders with a broad range in North America. If you’re interested in making suggestions for the list, you can visit this thread (I hope this link works) on the Nearctic Arachnologists’ Forum and post your ideas. You do have to be a member to post to the forum, but it’s a fairly simple process to join — and then you’ll be able to participate in forum discussions, so check it out if interested.

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6 Responses to “spider watching”

  1. David Says:

    Thanks for getting discussion going on this Bev. I suspect this will become an interesting way to encourage public participation. My thinking at the moment is make the contribution of observations as quick & slick as possible using Google Map’s API. i.e. zoom in as far as Google Map’s satellite imagery permits, click a spot to generate a marker & up pops the form in which you can add your observation. This eliminates the barrier to typing lat & long coordinates & also adds an element of “fun”, which is ever so important.

  2. Wayne Says:

    Earth Google is (another?) interesting way to mark positions – I just downloaded the free version the other day and it’s very nice to use. Don’t know how well it works on slower connections as it does rely on download of info during operation.

    I took a look at the nearctic page and it’s a neat idea. My candidates were included in the lists – Araneus, Argiope, Dolomedes, Micrathena.

    It would be interesting to have some species with a northern and southern limit to their range (that are in the observing area) in order to pick up on changes in range over time. I don’t know enough to know if that’s the case or not.

  3. David Says:


    GE is great for displaying points and info., but I don’t know of any way to tie user input to a database where the observations could be recorded. On the flipside however, it’s pretty easy to provide downloads of the GE *.kml files off a website where one can view the points in GE (e.g. http://canadianarachnology.dyndns.org/data/canada_spiders/googlemaps.asp?SpeciesCode=14895).

  4. burning silo Says:

    David – I very much agree with making it simple, quick and even fun to submit observations, especially if some of the contributors are likely to be youths. The Google maps would probably work well for this type of program. I have had some problems getting them to work right with my browser and my slow dial-up connection, but my own situation is probably far from typical of most people using the net these days. I just tried the regular Google mapping a few minutes ago to see how it worked and it seemed to be better than I remembered it to be. I’ll have to give the satellite maps a try too.
    As for what Wayne has mentioned in the spider species with a northern and southern limit to their range (or known range), I was wondering a bit about that too — whether there’s any species that isn’t as common on the northern edge of its range, but that mght become more common if there is climate change. Maybe someone is already doing work with that as it is.

    Wayne – Sgree about species with northern and southern limits to their range. I do think we should be giving extra thought to noth-south ranges when studying just about any flora and fauna these days.
    I haven’t tried Earth Google, but should check it out. However, in the past, I’ve found that most of the programs that require downloads to run, won’t work with the Safari browser that I use with my Mac.

  5. Hadeaq Says:

    We live in a high rise on the lakefront in Chicago. During the summer we are swamped with spiders around our windows. We noticed that they cannibalize each other too. Some seem to be bullies, and others a lot more passive.

  6. bev Says:

    Hadeaq – Yes, that’s true. Some spiders do eat other spiders. I frequently find Jumping Spiders (Salticidae) carrying around other spiders which they have captured.