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Spider Recorder’s Annual Report 2001 There have been no additions to the county arachnid fauna this year but the number of people submitting records did increase and a number of interesting species were found. Usually the only person I receive spider records from is Stan Dumican and his collecting in 2001 produced the first reliable record of Drassodes lapidosus from West Suffolk (v.c. 26). Bristowe (1940) mentions a record of the species from Brandon but it can be difficult to separate the species from D. cupreus and Roberts (1995) regards many old records as unreliable for this reason. The Brandon record is definitely unreliable as Bristowe does not distinguish between the two species in his paper, listing cupreus as a junior synonym of lapidosus. D. cupreus is the commoner species nationally although, based on current knowledge, there is little to choose between them in Suffolk. With the exception of Stan Dumican’s discovery of the species at Elveden, all Suffolk sites for D. lapidosus are from the Sandlings heaths or the coastal dunes and shingle. These are typical sites for a spider that does not spin a feeding web but hunts at night in very dry habitats. Bristowe (1940) also noted a record of Zygiella atrica from Bury St Edmunds, the first record from v.c. 26, but Stan Dumican provided the only modern record of this orb-web weaver from the vice-county when he collected a specimen from Cavenham Heath. Interestingly this species also appears to have a largely coastal distribution in Suffolk but although it is often found in coastal locations and on heathland, it is a widespread species nationally. The apparently restricted distribution in Suffolk most probably results from a bias in the sites where collecting has been undertaken. Darren Underwood increased the number of active spider recorders in the county by 33% when he sent in three records of the long-legged spider Pholcus phalangioides after reading my article in White Admiral (Lee, 2000a). His records from Lavenham, Long Melford and Orford Ness were all new to the 10km square showing just how much of a contribution individual SNS members could make to increasing our knowledge of such distinctive but under recorded taxa in the county. My own work within the county turned up just one species of particular note in 2001. A pitfall-trapping programme running from Autumn 2000 to Spring 2001 at RAF Mildenhall produced a total of twelve specimens of the nationally scarce money spider Lepthyphantes insignis. With the exception of a single record from Minsmere the handful of sites where this species has been found previously in Suffolk are all in the Brecks. Nationally this species is restricted to southern England and East Anglia where it is found rarely on calcareous grassland and Breck heathland (Merrett, 1990). The discovery of yet another scarce and characteristic Breckland species at RAF Mildenhall increases even further the already high arachnological importance of this site (Lee, 2000b). During the latter part of the year the final stages of the preparation of The Provisional atlas of British spiders (Harvey et al., 2002) were completed. This publication is based on over half a million records of spiders including a good number from Suffolk. However, the Suffolk data has also made a very specific

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 38 (2002)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 38

contribution to this publication thanks to the good offices of Martin Sanford and the Suffolk BRC. When Peter Harvey was editing the draft species accounts for the atlas he realised that the published information on the adult season of many species did not always correspond with his own records from Essex. To check whether this also applied to other areas he requested further data from a number of active recorders at short notice. Fortunately all of the spider records for Suffolk have been input to the SBRC database and so Martin was able to supply the necessary data. This has contributed to a major revision in our knowledge of the phenology of many species and will no doubt form the basis of much research in future especially into the impacts of global climate change on our native fauna. References Bristowe, W. S. (1940). The Arachnida of Suffolk. Order Araneae: The True Spiders. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 4: 156-164. Harvey, P. R., Nellist, D. R. & Telfer, M. G. (eds) (2002). Provisional atlas of British spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) Volumes 1 & 2. BRC, Huntingdon. Lee, P. (2000a). Further notes on the long-legged spider Pholcus phalangioides. White Admiral 45: 39. Lee, P. (2000b). The Spiders of RAF Mildenhall. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 36: 95-101. Merrett, P. (1990). A Review of the Nationally Notable Spiders of Great Britain. Nature Conservancy Council Contract Survey No. 127. NCC, Peterborough. Roberts, M. J. (1995). Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe. Harper Collins, London. Paul Lee 155 Corton Road Lowestoft Suffolk NR32 4PR

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 38 (2002)

Spider Recorder’s Annual Report 2001  

Paul Lee

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