New Zealand arachnids

Te Papa researcher: Phil Sirvid

New Zealand has a rich arachnid and largely unique arachnid fauna. We have over 1100 known species of spider and about 95% of them are found nowhere else on Earth. Opiliones (harvestmen) may not be as diverse as spiders (about 350 species and subspecies) but all but two are endemic and they show a bewildering array of bizarre forms.

My work concentrates on these two arachnid orders and seeks to document new species, to better understand known species, and to explore the evolutionary history of these fascinating animals. This information also informs threatened species classification assessments for arachnids.

Web traffic data shows that spiders are a topic of great interest to visitors to the Te Papa website and public outreach is an important focus.

Male of Diaea ambara. Photo by Phil Sirvid. Te Papa

Male of Nomaua sp. Photo by Phil Sirvid. Te Papa

Main Collaborators: Cor Vink (Canterbury Museum), Mike Fitzgerald (Te Papa), Gonzalo Giribet (Harvard).

Funding: Travel and material costs for Harvestman work from an NSF grant.

Representative publications:

Sirvid PJ, Moore NE, Chambers GK, Prendergast K. 2013. A preliminary molecular analysis of phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships of New Zealand Thomisidae (Araneae) using a multi–locus approach. Invertebrate Systematics 27: 655-667.

Sirvid PJ, Vink CJ, Wakelin MD, Fitzgerald BM, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN. 2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Araneae. New Zealand Entomologist 35: 85-90.

Sirvid PJ, Zhang Z-Q, Harvey MS, Rhode BE, Cook DR, Bartsch I, Staples DA. 2010. Phylum Arthropoda – Chelicerata – horseshoe crabs, arachnids, sea spiders. In: Gordon D.P. (ed.) New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity, Vol. 2. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, pp. 50-89.