Spiders on Display

News Release Date: 
01.15.13

Spring semester Thompson Library exhibit about Spiders features work and research of Marion campus professor, Dr. Richard Bradley

A display of materials featuring the Ohio Spider Survey, and the new book Common Spiders of North America, is currently on exhibit in the Thompson Library through spring semester.   The exhibit also features information about Ohio State's spider collection.  

The display is located on the second floor in the north west corner overlooking the Neil Avenue side atrium and near the Buckeye Reading Room in the upright glass cases. The display was prepared by Ohio State Marion Head Librarian, Betsy Blankenship, Ohio State Professor of Evolution Ecology and Organizmal Biology, Dr. Richard Bradley, and Cheryl Mason-Middleton from The Ohio State University Libraries.

The Ohio Spider Survey is an outreach and education project involving The Ohio State University, The Ohio Division of Wildlife: Wildlife Diversity Program, and volunteers from throughout Ohio.  It began in 1994 and since that time a total of 5,036 Ohioans have either attended a program or a hands-on workshop.  More than 850 volunteer contributors have submitted photographs or specimens.  Many inquiries have arrived via electronic mail (12,815 emails).  The survey database currently consists of 16, 669 records, representing 40,057 specimens.  Very few of these records are of potentially dangerous species (5 brown recluse, 13 northern black widow, 5 southern black widow) which serves to emphasize their rarity.  The number of species known for Ohio has been increased from 306 to 637.  Four scientific articles have been published as well as two general-interest books and numerous articles in popular magazines and newspapers.

Spiders are among the most diverse groups of terrestrial invertebrates (43,678 species), yet they are among the least studied and understood. The new book Common Spiders of North America (R. Bradley, 2013, University of California Press) is the first comprehensive guide to all 68 families of spiders in North America that illustrates in color 469 of the most commonly encountered species.  Group keys enable identification by web type and other observable details, and species descriptions include identification tips, typical habitat, geographic distribution, and behavioral notes. A concise illustrated introduction to spider biology and anatomy provides the key for understanding spider relationships. This book is a critical resource for curious naturalists who want to understand this ubiquitous and ecologically critical component of our biosphere.

The exhibit also showcases The Ohio State University’s spider collection.  The spider collection is held in the Acarology Laboratory of the Museum of Biological Diversity.  The museum is located on west campus at 1315 Kinnear Road.  This is a research museum. The collections are normally accessible only by appointment; but each year there is a public open house event.  This year that event occurs on Saturday 9 February, 2013.  For more information about the museum and its collections, consult http://mbd.osu.edu/.  In one case a typical bottle from the collection containing preserved Micrathena gracilis is displayed.  Another bottle contains a “tarantula” that arrived with a shipment of bananas at a produce market in Columbus back in 1926.  There is a display of mounted tarantulas (members of the spider family Theraphosidae) as well as another featuring the California trapdoor spider (Bothricyrtum californicum).