University of Rio de Janeiro researchers explore Tasmanian spiders


Image: Professor Renner Baptista (left), John Douglas and Dr Pedro Castanheira with some of the 2,000 spider specimens collected in Tasmania last week.Photo: Simon Fearn

In January 2023, QVMAG welcomed visiting spider researchers Renner Baptista and Pedro Castanheira from the University of Rio de Janeiro.

Renner and Pedro have been working under permits to collect spiders in National Parks all over Tasmania this month. 

Their main focus is a taxonomic revision of the orb weaving spiders based on mitochondrial DNA and they have been liaising with QVMAG's Honorary Research Associate John Douglas.

DNA collected from the specimens will help to clarify the precise evolutionary relationships between Australian and overseas orb weavers.

Renner and Pedro are visiting Australia through a research project headed by Australian spider expert Dr Volker Framenau based at Murdoch University, Western Australia.

QVMAG is both fortunate and delighted to play a role in such research.

It's estimated that around a third of Tasmania's spider fauna has yet to be named by taxonomists and many more species are undergoing taxonomic and molecular revisions.

Through liaising with experts from around the world, QVMAG is developing an important and well named Tasmanian spider collection.

Accurate identifications by experts are vital in registering specimens and getting them onto regional, national and international databases so that researchers and land managers everywhere can have access to the best possible information on species occurrence and distribution.