BC scientists discover new spider species

New discovery a first for Canadians

By Dylan Hackett, News Editor

A highly successful BioBlitz conducted last summer in the British Columbian Flathead Valley has revealed the discovery a brand new spider species: the apostenus ducati. The team of biologists named the spider after a make of Italian motorcycle.

“Scientists did not find a single introduced species of spider or mollusc, which is very unusual,” said Peter Wood, Terrestrial Campaigns Director for CPAWS BC. Most spider species found in the more populous Lower Mainland and Southern Island areas of BC are of European or Asian origin.

The discovery was announced by environmental non-profit group, the Sierra Club BC, along with concurrent sightings of other rare fauna, including 14 findings of scientifically significant arachnids. The team of 10 also saw the area’s first Herrington’s Fingernail Clam in 100 years.

“The BioBlitz results prove that BC’s Flathead has remarkable biodiversity not just in mammals and plants but also in a stunning variety of smaller organisms that are essential for a healthy ecosystem,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske.

The team also spotted flocks of rare and endangered birds, adding to the anomaly factor of the BioBlitz.

“We didn’t expect to see some of these birds in the Flathead and decided to zoom in for a closer look this year with a bigger team,” said Sarah Cox, Interim Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. “Ornithologists and birders will be awaking at first light to spread out in the valley and mountains so we can get an accurate picture of which rare and at-risk bird species call the Flathead home.”

A BioBlitz is a term coined for labourous short periods of field surveying where cataloging all active species in a given area is the prime goal. BioBlitzes are held annually in Whistler, and locally at the Burnaby Lake Regional Park. They often act as outreach activities to the broader public and can sometimes have a focus on promoting wildlife conservation.

Conservation efforts in the Flathead region have banned both mining and energy development for the sake of biodiversity. Flathead is still permissible for logging though.