Brachypelma, a genus of nine endangered tarantula species in Mexico, is the only group of spiders included in Appendix II of CITES, owing to habitat degradation and illegal trafficking. However, while the majority of the nine species of Brachypelma are thought to be threatened, little is known of their ecology and distribution. Brachypelma klaasi is the rarest species, occurring in a few isolated populations on the Pacific coast of Mexico. We present an analysis of population distribution and micro-habitat requirements of B. klaasi over different spatial scales within the biological reserve at Chamela, Jalisco as part of a wider ecological study of the endangered Brachypelma group. Burrows and dispersing spiders were confined to a southern area of the reserve covering approximately 0.5 km2. Within this area, burrows were not aggregated at lower spatial scales (24–216 m2), unlike other related species. Also, there was no evidence that intra-specific interactions (either positive or negative interactions) influenced the distribution of burrows. Distribution of burrows at low spatial scales was related to low afternoon temperatures and high humidity in mid-summer. These abiotic factors may influence the survival and development of eggs and spiderlings, and appear to be more important in governing the distribution of B. klaasi than are food resources or intra-specific interactions. We discuss how these findings may facilitate the re-introduction of captive-bred individuals of B. klaasi and other Brachypelma species.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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