Summary for Zodarion vicinum (Araneae)
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About this speciesRecorded altitude range
The species was discovered in Britain in 1987 at Shakespeare Cliff at Dover. It is otherwise known only from Italy: on the island of Giglio in the Tuscan archipelago, from Forli (Province Forli) and Aspromonte, Calabria.
Habitat and ecology
The spiders have been taken in pitfall traps set in an old rock fall at the base of the cliff in an area of moderately sloping chalk grassland dominated by Brachypodium pinnatum and Festuca rubra. A single female was also collected by hand in 2005. The spiders have been collected in close proximity to nests of the ant Lasius alienus, many being found in retreats typical of the genus Zodarion. Adults were collected between the end of May and June.
The spider has only been found at the one site in Britain, but on three occasions. Two males and one female were originally taken in pitfall traps in 1987 and a further visit in 1991 yielded a further four males and seven females, evidence for a well-established population at the site. A further single female was collected in May 2005 under a stone on bare chalk marl on Samphire Hoe, the new platform created from spoil taken from digging the Channel Tunnel. This site is immediately adjacent to the cliff where it was originally found in 1987. Further human disturbance of the site and / or increased vegetation cover are potential threats to the continued existence of the population.
The species was discovered during an extensive invertebrate survey of several sites around Dover and Folkestone as part of a study of the ecological impact of some aspects of the engineering work for the Channel Tunnel. It is not known how the construction of the Channel Tunnel has affected the population of this species. The main threat to the site itself may, in the long term, be sea level rise and increased wave action. Since Zodarion species prefer hot dry habitats, another threat may be revegetation of areas of bare ground.
Management and conservation
Ensure the survival of areas of bare ground where it occurs. Although much of Samphire Hoe was originally sown with a grass mixture, the nature of the substrate (chalk marl) means that there are still substantial areas of bare ground. So long as the grassland is mown annually, this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.
Text based on Dawson, I.K., Harvey, P.R., Merrett, P. & Russell-Smith, A.R. (in prep.). References
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