Summary for Tapinocyboides pygmaeus (Araneae)
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About this speciesRecorded altitude range
The species has been recorded from the South Downs near Heyshott, West Sussex, in 1951; the Chilterns at Buttler's Hangings and Swain's Wood, Buckinghamshire, in 1982; Town Kelloe Banks, Co. Durham, in 1982 and 1986; a farm at East Lilburn, North Northumberland, in 1987; Hampstead Heath, Middlesex (Milner 1992); near Duddingston, Midlothian; Angus and Shetland (Merrett 2000). The wide geographical spread of the known sites suggests that it may be more widespread than the present records indicate. Elsewhere in Europe, it is known from Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Finland and central Europe.
Habitat and ecology
This species has been found among grass roots on chalk and limestone grassland and, in Northumberland, in grass on boulder clay. During pitfall-trapping at Buttler's Hangings, the females of this species built their webs between the plastic cup and the tin sleeve of the pitfall trap, and the main habitat is probably mouse tunnels and crevices created by soil creep (J. Hancock, unpublished). Both sexes are found in September, April and May, and males also in March. The peak of activity is possibly in April.
The spider has been rarely recorded but, as the species is very small and pale and lives among grass roots, it could easily be overlooked. It was numerous at Heyshott and Buttler's Hangings but has apparently declined significantly so that it has only been recorded from two 10-km squares since 1992. It has been recorded from only four locations since 1992 showing an apparent decline from five locations prior to that date.
Conversion of calcareous grassland to arable agriculture or the scrubbing-over of sites if grazing lapses.
Management and conservation
Grazing to produce a diversity of sward heights is likely to maintain the soil and vegetation structure required by this spider.
Text based on Dawson, I.K., Harvey, P.R., Merrett, P. & Russell-Smith, A.R. (in prep.). References
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