Patrick publishes two papers, one on discovery of two new spider species

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dr. Brian Patrick, assistant professor of biology at Dakota Wesleyan University, recently published two scientific papers in the Journal of Arachnology (Volume 41, Issue 3), one on the discovery of two new spider species.

The first paper describes two new species of spiders.  The paper is a collaboration between Patrick and Dr. Herbert Levi of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College. Professor emeritus Levi is the first author on this paper and has described more than 1,100 species of spiders during his career.

“Herb is also one of the world’s experts on this spider family and genus, and it was truly an honor to be able to work with one of the greatest arachnologists of all time,” Patrick said. 

Both of the new species of spider are in the family Theridiidae, the cobweb spiders, and in the genus Theridion, the second largest genus of spiders in the world.

“Interestingly, the two species described are two of the smallest in the genus, both coming in between 1 and 2 millimeters long,” Patrick said. “The first described species is Theridion logan, named after the place where it was first discovered in Logan Canyon, Utah.  The second is Theridion pierre, named after the place where it was first discovered, the Fort Pierre National Grassland in South Dakota.”

The second paper compares two methods for capturing insects and spiders, the ramp trap
and the pitfall trap. The paper is based on the talk Patrick gave at the 19th International Congress of Arachnology conference in Taiwan last summer. This research was conducted with Ashton Hansen, who is the coauthor and currently seeking her master’s degree in entomology from North Dakota State University. Hansen was conducting Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) research in South Dakota with Patrick in 2010.

“Pitfall traps are essentially a cup in the ground which wandering insects and spiders on the ground walk into to be captured,” Patrick said. “Pitfall traps require excavating a small amount of soil, but this is not always pragmatic, particularly in rocky areas or areas where digging is not permitted, such as in national parks in the U.S. Ramp traps basically use a ramp going up to a small container and the insects and spiders walk up the ramp and fall into the container.”

Their research showed that the ramp traps were twice as effective for capturing spiders.

To read more about the spider trap research, click here.

Categories: News
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