Brazil 2009

In September and October 2009 I visited the Brazilian Atlantic Forest for the third time in order to expand on a long-term project on the diversity and endemism of pholcids in this extraordinary biodiversity hotspot. Previous trips (2003, 2007) had revealed unusually high numbers of species at any locality and little species overlap among localities. In combination with the facts that only about 7% of the Atlantic Forest are left and that most of the forest fragments are relatively easily accessible, this explains why the area is extremely interesting for any study of the origin and maintenance of biodiversity.

Our first stop was at the Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçú, NE of Rio de Janeiro. A nice field station and a beautiful lush forest at a few minutes walking distance made this a wonderful and highly successful collecting effort. With 15 pholcid species we broke the previous world record of pholcid species per locality by two species. Relentless rain stopped us from getting higher up the mountain where additional species might occur.


Our second stop was near Mangaratiba, SW of Rio de Janeiro, at the Reserva Ecológica Rio das Pedras. The abundance of pholcids was amazing, which was especially clear during night collecting, where pholcids seemed to be just everywhere in incredible numbers. Even though the forest near the station is mostly altered and low, we still got an amazing 13 species.



Several people made this trip one of the most pleasant I remember. Alessandro Giupponi organized the collecting trips, was a wonderful companion in the field, a diligent collector of the most tiny and difficult species, and last not least able to turn a few simple ingredients into excellent meals, never without a good bottle of wine. Adriano Kury accompanied us to Mangaratiba, making this a most cheerful excursion. Alejandra Rojas Vargas was the most caring and loving host while recovering from day-and-night collecting in Itatiba, some 100 km from
São Paulo. To all these people I owe much more than simple thanks. Thanks is also due to the Alexander Koenig Stiftung for financing the trip.