Spiders of the genus Cupiennius Simon 1891 (Araneae, Ctenidae). I. Range distribution, dwelling plants, and climatic characteristics of the habitats

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1988
Authors:F. G. Barth, Seyfarth, E. - A., Bleckmann, H., Schüch, W.
Keywords:Ctenidae, Cupiennius, Habitat, Range distribution, Spider

Cupiennius is a genus of hunting spiders with seven established species. One of these (C. salei) has been used in laboratory research for many years. Here we report on the geographic distribution of the genus and some char- acteristics of its habitat. (1) The genus is Central American. Its range is from the state of Veracruz in Mexico in the north to Panama in the south. Five of the seven species are known to occur in the Canal Area, Panama. Sympatry is best documented for C. getazi and C. coccineus and is likely to occur in other species. (2) All known species of Cupiennius are closely associated with particular plants on which they hide during the day and prey, court, and moult at night. The most typical dwelling plant such as a bromeliad or a banana plant is a monocotyledon with mechanically strong and unbranched leaves that provide retreats at their bases. On plants not providing "ready-made" shelters, such as ginger or members of the Araceae, several species of Cupiennius have been observed to build retreats. (3) Average monthly rainfall and temperature data are given for six locations where we have recently observed C. coccineus, C. getazi, C. panamensis, and C. salei. According to measurements taken in the field the microclimate within a typical retreat differs considerably from the external environment: during the day the retreat space shows lower average water evaporation rates and higher relative air humidity.

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