Dr Rogério Bertani, a tarantula specialist with the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, has reported the discovery of nine species of tree-dwelling tarantulas.
Tree-dwelling (arboreal) tarantulas are known from a few tropical places in Asia, Africa, South and Central America and the Caribbean. They have a lighter build, thinner bodies and longer legs, better suited for their habitat. Their core area is the Amazon, from where most of the species are known and normally very common, living in the jungle or even in house’s surroundings.
Now, nine species were described from Central and Eastern Brazil, including four of the smallest arboreal species ever recorded.
A study, published in the journal ZooKeys, describes nine new tarantulas named: Typhochlaena amma, T. costae, T. curumim, T. paschoali, Iridopelma vanini, I. katiae, I. marcoi, I. oliveirai and Pachistopelma bromelicola.
“Instead of the seven species formerly known in the region, we now have sixteen,” Dr Bertani said. “In a resurrected genus with a mysterious single species known from 1841, we have now five species. These are the smallest arboreal tarantulas in the world, and their analysis suggests the genus to be very old, so they can be considered relicts of a formerly more widely distributed taxon”.
“The discovery of all these new species outside the Amazon was unexpected and illustrates how little we know of the fauna surrounding us, even from hot spots of threatened biodiversity like the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and the Cerrado, a kind of savannah vegetation.”
“These species are highly endemic and the regions where they live are suffering high pressure from human activities. Therefore, studies for their conservation are necessaries. Furthermore, all these new species are colorful, which could attract the interest for capturing them for the pet trade, constituting another threat.”
Bibliographic information: Bertrani R. 2012. Revision, cladistic analysis and biogeography of Typhochlaena C. L. Koch, 1850, Pachistopelma Pocock, 1901 and Iridopelma Pocock, 1901 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae). ZooKeys 230: 1-94; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.230.3500