expedition in the current project on the pholcid subfamily Ninetinae
brought me to Argentina in March 2019. Argentina is home to several
genera of Ninetinae, and previous collectors have found these tiny
spiders in numerous places, so our chances to find large series
suitable for genomic work appeared good. We started at Cordoba and
travelled some 5500 km through the provinces of San Juan, La Rioja,
Catamarca, Tucumán, Salta, and Jujuy, sifting the leaf litter
and turning thousands of rocks.
These are representatives of the three Ninetinae genera known to occur in Argentina: Gertschiola (left), Nerudia (center), and Guaranita (right). The biggest surprise was the diversity of Nerudia, currently a monotypic genus. We found about 10 species, one of them at 4450 m above sea level (highest known pholcid record). Of Guaranita, we found all four currently known species (plus a new one).
My summary of this trip might be like this: magnificent oversized landscapes; an amazing variety of amazingly obstinate and obstructive spines and throns; and Ninetinae almost everywhere but most of them barely visible, the size of a dot.
|I thank Matias Izquierdo for his help with preparations and
for being a great companion in the field, and the German Research
Foundation (project HU980/13-1) for financial support.