Two new species of jumping spiders have been discovered from the Valley of Flowers National Park in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, raising the number in the catalogued diversity of this family of arthropods to 250.
Specimens of both these new species measure between 2mm to 5mm and were collected from the alpine meadows of the valley of flowers at an altitude of 3200 to 3600 metres above sea level. The findings were made by a team of researchers from Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Calcutta and has been published in the journal ‘Zookeys’.
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One species, named Nandicius vallisflorum, was described through a single female specimen, while the other species, Pellenes himalaya, was described on the basis of four male and three female specimens. Both were collected in 2017 and analysed by ZSI scientists Vikas Kumar, S.K. Sajan and Caleb during during field surveys in conducted as part of efforts to document faunal biodiversity in the Himalayas. The research project supported by the Union environment and forests ministry was led by ZSI director Kailash Chandra.
Across the globe, there are over 6000 species of jumping spiders making them the most diverse among spider families. Zoologists believe that there could be more species of jumping spiders waiting to be discovered in India and its diversity is largely underrepresented. Over 450 jumping spiders each have been so far documented from Australia, Brazil and China.
Lead author of the paper and research associate John Caleb said, “Given India’s megadiversity of habitats, it is believed many jumping spiders are yet to be discovered,”
The heterogeneous landscape ranges from the low-lying flat and gentle slopes to steep and high snow-bound areas, provide a great diversity of microhabitats resulting in a rich diversity of both flora and fauna.
What are jumping spiders?
Jumping spiders are called so because of the capacity to leap across long distance. However, unlike insects such as grasshoppers that use muscular force, jumping spiders use fluids in their legs and hydraulic mechanism to make their leaps.
Jumping spiders are a group of spiders that constitute the family Salticidae. Nandicius and Pellenes are genus belonging to this family