northern part of Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah) was the destination of the
second trip in the context of my project on Southeast Asian
pholcids. I had the opportunity to visit numerous localities ranging
western Sarawak (Pueh foothils) to eastern Sabah (Sepilok). My focus
was on three main aspects: (1) gather further data for an estimation of
pholcid spider diversity in SE Asia and worldwide; (2) collect material
previously not represtened in the molecular phylogeny of Pholcidae; (3)
and gather data about the biology of specific taxa such as Belisana (web structure), Panjange (eye stalks); and Pholcus (microhabitat diversity).
Looking for pholcids, I often miss other beautiful creatues. In Borneo, my son Samuel had an eye for those, in addition to helping with pholcids.
Below is the
highly unusual web of a Belisana species
from Sarawak. Such regular webs with sticky drops are otherwise typical
for orb weavers and their relatives, but Pholcidae are systematically
far away for orb weavers. It is quite obvious that Belisana has independently evolved
a similar regular web structure. In Borneo I found these
'zig-zag' webs but also quite different webs which in fact seem to have
a species-specific morphology.
Other highlights were the discovery of numerous new species in the genera Panjange (now Apokayana), Belisana, Calapnita, and Aetana, a new species of Pholcus that superficially looks exactly like Calapnita, and further species of Apokayana with highly exaggerated male eye stalks.
I owe thanks to Charles Leh from the Sarawak Museum for his help in planning this trip and for guiding me through the process of permit application. Thanks is also due the German Research Foundation for financing this expedition (DFG Project HU 980/11-1).
The town of Kapit. Good forets just accross the river.
Ricefields in Bario Highlands, with mountain forest in the background.