Two new species of jumping spiders discovered from Western Ghats 

Habrocestum swaminathan, discovered from the banks of the river Kunthi, has been named after M.S. Swaminathan while Habrocestum benjamin, collected from Thusharagiri, is named after Suresh P. Benjamin, a Sri Lanka-based jumping spider specialist

Published - July 06, 2024 07:07 pm IST - Thrissur

Habrocestum benjamin

Habrocestum benjamin | Photo Credit: NAJEEB K.K.

 Habrocestum swaminathan

Habrocestum swaminathan | Photo Credit: SPL

Two new species of litter-dwelling jumping spiders from the evergreen forests of the southern Western Ghats have been found by researchers from Christ College, Irinjalakuda.

The newly discovered species, Habrocestum swaminathan and Habrocestum benjamin, which have been added to the illustrious roster of the genus Habrocestum, have sparked scientific curiosity among arachnologists and nature enthusiasts.

The research team, comprising arachnologists Athira Jose and John T.D. Caleb under the leadership of A.V. Sudhikumar, Associate Professor and Head of Centre for Animal Taxonomy and Ecology, embarked on an expedition to the heart of the Western Ghats.

The discovery of Habrocestum swaminathan and Habrocestum benjamin is significant as it can reshape the understanding of the ecological dynamics and evolutionary processes within the spider communities of the Western Ghats, says Dr. Sudhikumar.

“Jumping spiders, famed for their extraordinary visual acuity and complex behaviours, are the unsung heroes of natural pest control and vital indicators of ecosystem health. Habrocestum swaminathan was discovered from the banks of the river Kunthi and was named after M.S. Swaminathan, considering his contributions to the science field and his efforts on the conservation of Silent Valley, from where the Kunthi river originates,” says Dr. Sudhikumar.

Habrocestum benjamin was collected from Thusharagiri, one of the foothills of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. These spiders are attractive with beautiful colour patches and were spotted near the Thusharagiri waterfalls, a busy tourist destination. This species was named after Suresh P. Benjamin, a Sri Lanka-based jumping spider specialist, who made notable contributions to the study of the genus Habrocestum,” he says.

This study was funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board of the Department of Science and Technology and the University Grants Commission. Published in the journal Zootaxa, this discovery highlights the Western Ghats as one of the world’s most vital biodiversity hotspots with its ecological richness.

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