Special projects - ARC Australian trapdoor spiders

Research Projects | Updated 4 years ago

An example of a trapdoor spider under study in the MSU
An example of a trapdoor spider under study in the MSU
Image copyright WA Museum

Evolution and biogeography of Australian idiopid trapdoor spiders: implications for conservation biology and environmental assessment

Trapdoor spiders, due to their longevity, habitat fidelity and poor powers of dispersal, are of conservation significance in many regions of the world. In Australia, the trapdoor spiders of the family Idiopidae are an ancient and iconic austral element of the fauna, having radiated in temperate and subtropical habitats throughout the country, and exhibiting high diversity and endemism at all taxonomic levels. This project will develop a rigorous molecular systematic framework for understanding the diversity and evolution of Australian Idiopidae. Large, multi-gene datasets for specimens from all Australian lineages, major habitats and bioregions will be used to: i) infer the first molecular phylogeny for the Australian fauna; ii) estimate the mode and timing of the Australian idiopid radiation; and iii) determine useful genetic markers for delimiting trapdoor spider species. This research will provide the quantitative and taxonomic foundation necessary for accurately identifying trapdoor spiders, for environmental assessment and determining conservation priorities for rare or threatened species.

About the project

This Project is led by the University of Adelaide, with Industry Linkage Partners BHP Billiton Iron Ore Pty Ltd, Rio Tinto Pilbara Iron Company (Services) Pty Ltd, Biota Environmental Sciences Pty Ltd, South Australian Museum and the Western Australian Museum, and is funded for three years (2013-2015). It is designed to facilitate the molecular identification of trapdoor spider species, and will use DNA techniques to study their evolution and biogeography. These data will be useful for the processes of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and for determining conservation priorities for threatened taxa.