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  The Importance of a Spider Survey

Every year more and more of Colorado’s natural areas are affected by increasing population growth and development, especially along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. Habitat degradation due to development may be driving wildlife out of once-pristine habitats.

Information about the distribution and diversity of many arthropod groups in this region of the country is lacking. One group that is particularly understudied is the order Araneae, or the spiders. Little is known about either the biodiversity of spiders in Colorado or the impact urbanization is having on species distributions in the state. No formal spider surveys have ever been conducted in Colorado. The Colorado Spider Survey is a means of gathering critical information about the ecology and distribution of this understudied group, and the research will result in a field guide to the spiders of Colorado.

The survey will be carried out through a series of Spider Identification and Collection Workshops that will be held throughout the state, but particularly in cooperation with the State Park system. These workshops, led by a team of professional and amateur arachnologists (or spider biologists), will train members of local communities in spider biology, morphology, taxonomy, and collection techniques. The specimens will be collected during the next several years by team leaders as well as workshop participants and will be sent to the Denver Museum of Nature &Science (DMNS) for identification and storage. Data from these specimens as well as Colorado specimens housed at other collections throughout the country will be compiled and published in an electronic database.

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