Summary for Gonatium paradoxum (Araneae)
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About this speciesRecorded altitude range
110m to 350m
Since 1954 it has been recorded from two localities in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, from Limpsfield Common and Box Hill, Surrey, from Crockhamhill Common and Upper Halling, West Kent and from Blean Woods NNR, East Kent. It is widespread in north-western and central Europe, but has not been recorded from Ireland, Belgium or Denmark.
Habitat and ecology
The spider occurs mainly on mature dry heathland and among moss and grass in chalk grassland. In Blean Woods, E. Kent, it occurs under heather along rides in ancient deciduous woodland. Adults of both sexes have been found in August and September, and females also in April, June and July.
The species appears to be restricted to a small area of south-east England. It has been recorded from just one location since 1992 and the area of occupancy has apparently declined by 80%. The spider occurs mainly on mature dry heathland and among moss and grass in chalk grassland. It is unlikely that enough suitable habitat remains at Limpsfield and Crookhamhill Commons to maintain viable populations, but the spider is thought likely to still be present at Box Hill and Ashdown Forest.
Ashdown Forest is suffering bracken and scrub invasion because of lack of grazing, with only one of the commoners now exercising sheep-grazing rights. There are also frequent fires in some areas. Limpsfield and Crookhamhill Commons are both small and now heavily scrubbed over. It is unlikely that enough suitable habitat remains at these sites to maintain viable populations of this spider.
Management and conservation
Scrub clearance is needed where open habitat has been lost, ideally followed by a programme of grazing or occasional cutting in order to keep the scrub at bay and maintain a variety of sward heights.
Text based on Dawson, I.K., Harvey, P.R., Merrett, P. & Russell-Smith, A.R. (in prep.). References
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