Spiders up close and personal

News Release Date: 
12.07.10

Ohio’s eight legged web spinning critters central to OSU professor’s research

The fear of spiders (arachnophobia) is alive and pervasive in books, movies, children’s nursery rhymes, and popular culture. Dr. Richard Bradley of the Department of Evolution, Ecology, & Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University will introduce Ohio’s eight legged friend and his research at Marion’s Infinity Restaurant, 267 West Center Street, on Tuesday, December 7, 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s discussion entitled, The Ohio Spider Survey: 16 Years of Citizen Science will shed light on Ohio spider species, help dispel myths, and educate the average citizen scientist on the Buckeye State’s arachnid population and their role in the ecosystem. The Ohio Spider Survey is the latest in a yearlong series of free public discussions on science as part of Ohio State Marion’s Science Café series.

Science Cafés involve lively conversations with scientists about current science topics. Science Cafés are free and open to everyone, and take place in casual settings like pubs and coffeehouses. At a café you can learn about the latest issues in science, chat with a scientist in plain language, meet new friends, speak your mind, and talk with your mouth full. The overriding goal of Ohio State Marion’s Science Café is to overcome reluctance to learning about science and to make science less mysterious.

The Ohio Spider Survey is a research project intended to provide base-line data on the distribution and abundance of spider species in Ohio. Data are accumulated through collections at field sites representative of the major habitats and regions of the state.

During the early years of the project, most of the collections were made by the principal investigator and assistants, but the proportion of collection records contributed by volunteer participants is increasing steadily. The data currently include 13,123 records representing 29,619 specimens.

This Science Café is part of the Ohio Spider Survey's public education effort, an important component of the survey. This effort consists of public lectures, classroom demonstrations, and field and laboratory workshops. There is also an Ohio Spider web page, which generates dozens of telephone and e-mail inquiries each year.

To date, thousands of Ohioans have participated in these activities. The survey has also provided technical identification services to medical personnel, extension entomologists, and pest control professionals.

For more information on Science Café visit:  http://osumarion.osu.edu/sciencecafe/ or contact Ohio State Marion professor of mathematics, Dr. Brian McEnnis at:  mcennis.1@osu.edu.