By John Partridge
After a very protracted gestation period, when still-birth seemed possible, this Atlas has now seen the light of day.
It is a two volume work of 406 A4 pages, which is the culmination of about 15 years of effort by members of the British Arachnological Society's Spider Recording Scheme. The maps in the Atlas are based on over 517 000 records from 2470 different 10 km squares, which gives records from over 86% of the 10km squares in Britain that contain some land, although inevitably the recording effort is not evenly distributed. The majority of these records are from the later years of the scheme. Worcestershire has around 5 000 included, giving a fairly good coverage of the county, although this number is much smaller than the best covered counties.
Each species map is accompanied by some text commenting on Status, Distribution, Habitat and Ecology, Threats, and Management. The amount of text varies depending on the status of the species and how much is actually known. Most species also have a phenology diagram showing how male and female records are distributed throughout the year. This has been rather restricted as the Spider Recording Scheme did not originally include male/female data. For a few species, this data has been expanded to show how the dates vary with latitude. As with all atlases of this type, they are inevitably out of date before they are published, with new British and County records still appearing. Nevertheless, the atlas provides a valuable resource for the arachnologist, providing ideas for further collecting, and throwing up many questions about habitat preferences for different species. It shows up which species ought to be around in Worcestershire that we have not found yet (mainly wetland species), and prevents the worst gaffes of identification.
The Atlas costs £20.00, including post and packing, and an order form can be downloaded via www.britishspiders.org.uk/html/info.html.
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