Ghana 2013

After my first trip to West Africa (Guinea 2009), I had been eager to return to the area, many parts of which are poorly explored with respect to spiders and pholcids in particular. In February and March 2013 I finally had another opportunity to visit West Africa, this time Ghana. Most of the time was spent exploring the more humid southern forests (Ankasa National Park, Kakum National Park, Atewa Hills, Akwapim Togo Range, Mampongtin Range).

 

As expected from my previous trip to Guinea and from unpublished data, the diversity of pholcids was relatively low compared to Central and Eastern Africa. However, compared to what had been known before about Ghanaian pholcids, the trip was a great success: only five species had even been recorded from the country (published in Huber 2007 and Huber 2009), while this trip alone resulted in 18 species. Since West African pholcids tend to have wide geographic ranges, most of these species are known from neighboring countries, but the trip also revealed several new species like the ones shown below (from left: genera Leptopholcus, Smeringopina, Spermophora).



Like many African countries, Ghana combines a wealth of different landscapes and habitats, ranging from humid rainforests like Ankasa Forest in the south to open savannah woodland in the north. While a sigle West African rainforest may hold up to nine species of Pholcidae (Kakum National Park), savannahs are definitely not places where pholcids have diversified. I made a short side-trip to the north to visit my daughter in Bunkpurugu (below, right), where she is doing voluntary work.



This photo here is a reminder that wearing good shoes in the forest makes a lot of sense. I stepped into this trap which was well hidden in the forest litter in Kakum National Park, but thanks to my boots nothing serious happened to my foot.










I owe thanks to Peter Kwapong for help with preparing the trip and with permits, and to Joseph Bosomtwe for being an extremely reliable driver
, a helpful guide, and a good companion.