Brazil 2007
 
paraty After the International Arachnological Congress in São Pedro in August 2007 I took the opportunity to visit some remarkable places in the Atlantic Forest between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. My first trip brought me to Paraty, a beautifully preserved colonial town at the sea, once an important stopover for the gold to be shipped to Europe, now a town thriving mainly from tourism.

Behind Paraty, the Serra do Mar mountain range provides not also the background for nice photos but is also covered with lush forest, some of which is quite well preserved. My emphasis was on pholcid webs which show an amazing range of architectural variation that is barely studied. About ten species of pholcids occur in any good locality in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, making this a good place to start gathering comparative data.

paratyweb1

The simple sheet-web on the left is from a Tupigea species. Nothing has been known about the biology of any member of this
endemic Brazilian genus before. Interestingly, another Tupigea species at the same locality lives in a very different habitat, under dead leaves in the leaf-litter, and builds very different webs, consisting of no more than a few threads attached to the leaf surface. Again very different are Mesabolivar webs, which may consists of two or three sheets and a complex mesh of additional lines above and sometimes even below the sheets (right).

 paratymesabolivar

penedoA second trip brougt me to Penedo, a little town located in the Serra da Mantiqueira about 100 km N of Paraty. Penedo itself may not be the first choice in a country like Brazil, but the forest above the town is beautiful, and the pholcid species overlap with Paraty was minimal. Other than webs I did my best to shoot a few good photos of the spiders themselves, something that is not easy in the relative darkness of the forest and with animals no more than 2-4 mm body length. For some examples see here.