Blitz picks up 50 new critters
The latest Bush Blitz has uncovered over 50 new species of spider.
Scientists have made a 10-day foray deep into Queensland’s Cape York region on behalf of Bush Blitz, a Federal Government-funded ecological research body.
Bush Blitz has funded 34 surveys since it was set up just four years ago, adding almost 1,200 new species to the register, 201 of which have been spiders.
The latest batch of arachnids are now being formally classified.
They include a brush-footed trap-door spider, a new species of swift spider and several new species of ant spider.
Queensland Museum research biologist Dr Barbara Baehr says the ecological richness of the state and a big recent wet season left the area green and thriving.
“It’s so vibrant – so many spiders are out there,” she told Guardian Australia.
“When you just cup leaf-litter together, it’s crazy.”
Dr Baehr now has the arduous task of formally describing the spiders for scientific classification, something she has done for about 600 new spider species throughout her career.
Australia is home to about 3,500 known species of spider, but there are between 7,000 and 15,000 awaiting classification.
While the idea of going out to grab as many spiders as possible would give most people the heebie-jeebies, Baehr said most are fairly harmless will not attack “if you don’t pinch them”.
“I am from Germany, and I came over because of that richness of fauna here, and because it’s like a paradise for biologists,” she said.
“I think Australians, they aren’t aware of it that much, they just live here.”
The expedition was conducted on Quinkan country, which is currently the subject of a national heritage listing application.
The Bush Blitz is one of the first real biological surveys of the area.
Rangers and traditional owners from the Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation guided the research.
The group’s manager Brad Grogan said the “expedition will help us identify areas of natural values that we can protect for the future.”