The general emphasis of the
collecting effort was on a fairly large number of arachnid taxa such as
scorpions, pseudoscorpions, harvestmen, amblypygids, and various spider
genera, including the pholcid genus Modisimus.
Modisimus is known to
be highly diverse in the Caribbean, with most or all island species
endemic to the respective island, with a large number of undescribed
species, and with strong ecological diversification. On Cuba we found Modisimus in several different
microhabitats, with pronounced morphological and color differences
among species in each of them. The photos below show some examples.
Even though we were able to visit no more than four localities (Pico Turquino, Baracoa, Sierra de Cubitas, Viñales), the results of the expedition are astounding even if just looking at numbers. While only 16 species of pholcids had been known from the entire island, we collected a total of about 31 species, most of them (about 25) new to science. With more than 1000 adult pholcid specimens we assembled the by far largest collection of Cuban pholcids, and it will probably take years until all the material is properly identified and described.
|I am most thankful to Ingi for inviting me to this trip,
to Greta and Alex for their efforts to make the trip happen despite of
intimidating bureaucratic difficulties, and to all other members of the
team for bearing with me. Back from left: Matjaz Kuntner, Alexandra,
Nadine Dupérré, Greta Binford, Franklyn Cala-Riquelme,
Esposito, Ingi Agnarsson, Anne McHugh, Albert Deler Hernández; Front from left:
Alexander Sanchez, Bernhard Huber, Rolando Teruel.