Summary for Meta bourneti (Araneae)
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About this speciesRecorded altitude range
0m to 100m
The species has a widespread but scattered distribution in southern England with one record from Wales. It has been recorded from France, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula, but it is possible that some European records of M. menardi refer to M. bourneti (Roberts 1995).
Habitat and ecology
M. bourneti is generally regarded as a spider found in underground situations, e.g. tunnels, culverts and drainage inspection chambers. However, males have been recorded close to ancient oak trees in Sherwood Forest. This suggests that the hollow trunks of ancient trees may provide similar conditions to those found in the spider's acknowledged habitat, i.e. dark, damp spaces of sufficient dimensions to enable the large orb web to be spun. Halstead (2000) located a colony in the hollow stump of a lime tree at Burley in the New Forest. M. bourneti is very similar to M. menardi, both species having a glossy appearance and a similar size. Further searching for M. bourneti needs to be carried out to confirm its habitat range.
The spider is known from rather few sites but often in good numbers. It may be under-recorded due to its unusual habitat and confusion with Meta menardi, especially where adult vouchers are not identified through critical examination using a microscope.
Where the spider inhabits ancient, hollow trees there is a danger of damage to the habitat through the uninformed 'tidying up' of dead and decaying timber.
Management and conservation
Recommendations for management of M. bourneti are difficult to make without a fuller knowledge of the habitat requirements and the true status of the species in the British Isles. Further field investigation and search for the species is required.
Text based on Dawson, I.K., Harvey, P.R., Merrett, P. & Russell-Smith, A.R. (in prep.). References