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I See You: Using Spider Diversity to Study Woodland Restoration Efforts

José-Cristian Martínez, Biological Sciences

Spiders, a mega-diverse group with 646 documented species in Illinois are one of several arthropod groups we use to study woodland restoration efforts.  Their abundance and diversity reflect changes in leaf-litter habitat caused by invasive plant species and woodland management practices.  As part of this work we have inventoried over 50,000 leaf-litter insects and spiders from 30 woodland sites in the Chicago metropolitan area.  The preservation of these specimens allows us to track biodiversity changer overt time while adding to our research and teaching collections at UIC.

This male spider Maevia inclemens (Walckenaer 1837) from the diverse spider family Salticidae, or jumping spider, was collected alive at one of our sites in Cook County. In addition to helping inform researchers about site diversity, this particular spider, identified by its large forward facing eyes and three-lined mohawk was also part of an undergraduate animal behavior lab in which students used live spider to study courtship behavior and predation.  Our research allowed us to link field work with class work, facilitating undergraduate involvement in research.