In September 2013 I had the opportunity to visit Israel and Jordan, countries with supposedly low pholcid diversity due to mostly arid conditions, as in the amazingly beautiful Negev Desert below.
Finding pholcids (or any spiders) in such environments is a challenge, and the fact that the widespread and possibly introduced Holocnemus pluchei was just about everywhere did not make things easier. Nevertheless, we managed to collect Artema at various localities, and this poorly known genus was one of our main goals during this trip. Shown below is a new species (in the meantime described as A. nephilit) together with a Hoplopholcus (H. cecconii, right).
A short side-trip to Jordan allowed me to visit some
exceptional places like Wadi Rum, Petra, Wadi Hasa, and Wadi Mujib
(left). Localities like Wadi Mujib and caves at the Israeli side of the
Dead Sea provided some of the lowest
pholcid records, at about 370 and 380 m below sea level.
I owe thanks to Efrat Gavish-Regev for inviting me to this trip, for her meticulous preparations and relentless efforts to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible; and to Efrat and Shlomi Aharon for the great time we spent in the field.