Save a Spider!

Pardosa amentata male

According to someone, somewhere, Saturday 14th March is 'Save a Spider Day'! A quick search on Google indicates that for others it is 'Non-smoking Day' and I dare say, if I looked hard enough, I could quickly fill my diary for tomorrow, what with avoiding cigarettes, saving spiders and everything else!

But for me, and many friends and colleagues, every day is one for saving spiders and protecting biodiversity. As naturaliLearn to Love Spiderssts, we understand that we cannot hope to arrest  widespread declines in species - so graphically documented by the recent 'State of Nature' report - if we do not know what occurs where and begin to understand the interactions between species and the environment that underpin distribution and abundance. A Tomorrow's Biodiversity project running from 2015-2017 focuses on spiders and the people who want to contribute to our understanding of them. We are working with the Shropshire Spider Group to stimulate interest in spiders and efforts to understand their distribution and abundances in our region.

Our vision is to capitalise on a growing interest in spiders and get more people involved in recording them, thus contributing to their long-term protection and conservation. A central plank of the project is to provide people with more training opportunities to develop their understanding of spiders and spider identification so that they can contribute to spider recording. (See our training programme for 2015 here.) But we are trying to develop this in a hollistic way; we want to think about how our courses link together, providng flexible pathways for people of all levels of expertise to move forward to where they want to be. We want to think about the needs of people after they leave the classroom and about all the other things it takes, beyond training, to build a strong, welcoming and supportive community of local recorders.

We currently have a small cadre of dedicated and expert spider recorders in the Shropshire Spider Group and all the expertise that we need to undertake some exciting projects over the next three years such as an online atlas of Spiders and Harvestmen for Shropshire and online recording projects. But the value of such projects and the joy of discovering the amazing facts about the distribution and abundance of our spiders is nothing without people who want to share in it. If you think that you might be one of those people - whether you're a complete novice or an expert arachnologist - please make contact with us. We've been looking for you!

You can contact me, Rich Burkmar here: burkmarr@field-studies-council.org and the 'county recorder for spiders', Nigel Cane-Honeysett here: shropshire.spiders@gmail.com.