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Spiders prove elusive in threatened alpine area


Tony Kennedy

A teacher with a passion in getting our younger generation involved in looking after the environment, getting to know other people by learning languages, and getting outdoors.

Today started off quite foggy, which delayed our start. The fog burnt off to a glorious day of 26°C with a slight wind, so perfect for a research field trip by helicopter.

Today's team leader was Joseph Schubert, Invertebrate systematics, of the Museum of Victoria. Joseph is researching spiders, so he is an arachnologist. His work mostly focuses on describing new species of Peacock Spiders and their relatives, but on this trip he was looking for any spider in the area.
The research area was The Pilot Mountain Peak in the south-western section of the Kosciusko National Park. The elevation of the Pilot Mountain Peak is 1700 metres. The area is strewn with granite outcrops. The Pilot Trig point is the fifth highest locality in New South Wales. The predominant tree species is the Snowgum, Eucalyptus pauciflora.

We looked for spiders under loose rock, wood debris, on the branches of trees, under bark on the tree, and on the ground. After about 3 hours of searching for all kinds of spiders, we had found 25. These will be investigated and identified taxonomically and named using Latin.

Carl Linnaeus is known as the "father of taxonomy" and he devised the basis of the system used today that identifies virtually every living thing known. Taxonomy distinguishes living things according to genetic and biochemical observations. Living things are described and separated into classifications. Unfortunately, our taxonomic knowledge is far from complete. In the past 250 years of research, taxonomists have named about 1.78 million species of animals, plants and micro-organisms, yet the total number of species is unknown and probably between 5 and 30 million. In taxonomy, living things are named using Latin, which is ancient Roman. Latin is no longer spoken anywhere. It is only used in science and medicine, which is a category of science. This means that the names will never change because the language will not change.

The purpose of Bush Blitz is to get scientists together to go out field in various regions of Australia to find known and unknown species, so that we have a record.