Spiders threatened

by Anonymous Author

Research being done at Lincoln University indicates that climate change may threaten one of our more reclusive native animals, the trapdoor spider.

Trapdoor spiders are found throughout New Zealand, springing out from their concealed burrows to capture prey.

While carrying out her PhD research at Lincoln Dr Vikki Smith found current models of future climate change in New Zealand do not bode well for trapdoor spider populations especially on the West Coast and in Tasman, as well as parts of Otago and Southland.

Dr Smith said the regions are all predicted to see increased rainfall which makes an area less suitable as a habitat for trapdoor spiders.

“The spiders were more likely to be present where the rainfall was below 1,000mm per year, and no populations were found in areas with more than 3,000mm per year,” Dr Smith said. She said the full extent of the impact of losing trapdoor spiders cannot be predicted, due to their many complex and unknown interactions with the environment.

“They are vital parts of their ecosystems in that they control insect populations, provide food for birds and lizards, and are hosts for at least three different parasites. Losing trapdoor spiders would remove a food source for native animals which may put increased pressure on their other food sources, particularly spiders,” Dr Smith said. 

She said climate change could also threaten other species. 

“It’s hard to tell what effect climate change will have on our native species, but marine and coastal species are most likely to be affected due to changes in sea level and temperature, according to climate models.”