The creepy crawly arachnids may not have a huge fan base, but they are still an integral part of the ecosystem. Now one researcher is keenly looking forward to the creation of four research centres in the country that will concentrate on studying just the arachnids like spiders and scorpions.
G N Vankhede, professor and head of the zoology department at Amravati University has sent a proposal to the ministry of environment to plan four research centre for arachnids in the country. Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University will be the lead institution, with other proposed sub-centres at the Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun), Walchand College (Solapur) and Zoological Survey of India (Kolkata). The centres will document a comprehensive inventory of arachnids from protected areas.
Vankhede said, “Arachnids research is a neglected field. The proposed centres will take up key species and they will be identified, particularly endemics, rare and range restricted, including their distribution and ecology, in order to provide for their protection for a long term.”
Arachnids are joint legged invertebrate animals like spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites. These creatures improve soil quality by decaying leaf litter. They also help check the insect population from growing when they feed on insects. The research centres will help know more about the distribution as well as the biodiversity of different species of arachnids. It is important because if the microhabitats of small species like insects and arachnids are protected, it will in turn help protect the entire area.
“The soil arachnids are important as they improve the quality of soil by decaying the leaf litter and also by keeping the soil organism population in control. Their enlisting will definitely be of use in forest management,” said Vankhede who is also the head of Indian Society of Arachnology.
Vankhede’s team has already discovered 1600 spider species in Melghat Reserve Area in central India. The proposed study will also evaluate spider assemblage in the Melghat tiger reserve, Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve and Pench tiger reserve. This will help maintain the spider collections (gene pool).
Article reference: TOI