Voucher Specimens & Collecting Spiders

One of the great ironies of biology is that biologists spend a fair amount of their time killing the organisms that they study.  Don't get me wrong,  I'm not saying that collecting doesn't have it's place, but we must recognize it for what it is.  Having said this, I should also note that most biologists avoid destructive collection whenever the objectives of their studies can be met in other ways; or if the populations of the organisms in question are vulnerable.

In the case of spider study, collecting is still relatively frequent.  There are two reasons for this. First, with the exception of a few large or distinctive species, most spiders cannot be identified without microscopic examination.  Serious study of an organism usually begins with identification. Second, because of their relatively small size and high reproductive capacity, most spiders have high populations in suitable habitat.  There are frequently hundreds to thousands of individuals per hectare.  For those species, removal of a few individuals is unlikely to adversely affect the health of the population.  Above all, think before you collect.  Is it really necessary to kill the specimens?  If so, are you prepared to take the basic data and label the specimens so that they are useful as permanent records?

to Permits

to Fluids for Preserving Spider Specimens

to Data and Labels

to Collecting Techniques

to How to Study Spiders

to Spiders in Ohio homepage

last revised 29 February 2000 / prepared by Clay Harris