Sri Lanka 2017
 
In March 2017 I visited Sri Lanka, mainly in order to get fresh pholcid spider material for molecular work in the context of my ongoing project on SE Asian pholcids. Certain taxa on the island seem to have affinities with SE Asia (e.g. an endemic group of Pholcus), others seem to be closer to African taxa (e.g. the endemic genus Wanniyala). Finally, the affinities of the Sri Lankan - South Indian genus Sihala are entirely obscure.



At 24 sites I got some 28 species, 13 of them new to science. In suitable habiats, abundances were often extremely high, especially in Sihala. In a large rock crevice on Mt. Ethagala (below left) I estimated about 2000 large specimens (below right: adult male), and uncounted numbers of small specimens.





Also ubiquitous but usually harder to find are Wanniyala (above, left), and members of the Pholcus ethagala group (above, right).



Some signs along the road are easy to understand (even though I suspect the sign on the left rather serves to keep tourists out of the Pidurutalagala Forest - a military area - than to warn from real danger), others look nice but their meaning remains a mystery (to me).



I thank Suresh Benjamin (Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy) for helping with permits, and the German Research Foundation for financial support (DFG project HU 980/11-1).