Research project: Australasian forest spider fauna


Start date:

Museum investigators

Funded by

  • New South Wales Biodiversity Strategy: Enhancement of Taxonomic Research grants scheme.


I started working with Mike Gray on his forest spider (Stiphidiidae) projects in the mid to late 1990s and we have now published three joint papers on this group. Many more stiphidiid genera remain undescribed, especially from the eastern forests including Tasmania. The stiphidiids make lacy webs out from retreats in rotten logs and moist banks, but many of the ground dwellers in these habitats are free-living. Such spiders include Toxopsoides, another group now of interest to me. At present there is only a single described species, from New Zealand. However, the genus is widespread and diverse in Australian forests where many species with limited ranges may be susceptible to changing climatic conditions. The genus is also an evolutionary enigma, with characters that make it difficult to place convincingly in any currently defined spider family.

I hope to produce some baseline work on this interesting group of spiders that will make them known and therefore useful for ecological and biodiversity surveys in the next few years.

Dr Helen Smith , Acting Technical Officer and Research Associate
Dr Mike Gray , Senior Fellow
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