Introduction and background
digitalSpiders is a resource for linking specimen images and DNA barcodes from ecologically structured spider inventories. Ecologically structured inventories (i.e., surveys that use replicable sampling protocols with multiple complimentary collecting methods) are fundamental sources of data about species richness and abundance distributions (Kremen et al, 1995; Coddington et al., 1991; Cardoso, 2009). But structured inventories of spiders and other diverse arthropod communities in tropical regions face several well-known challenges. Communities are generally characterized by a few common species and a very large number of rare species, and large samples are required to elucidate comparative patterns. The taxonomic literature relevant to such studies tends to be fragmentary and uneven in coverage and quality. In regions with a relatively undeveloped taxonomic literature, ecological studies typically categorize unidentified species using "morphospecies" concepts. This means using the skills of a morphological taxonomist to classify individuals in the collection without depending on incomplete and fragmentary taxonomic literature. This approach is sufficient for elucidating biodiversity patterns within a particular study, but makes it cumbersome to compare results between independent studies. As a consequence, independent biodiversity studies on the same taxa in a single region have limited capacity to build on each other or to document biological patterns beyond the scope of each individual study. In an era of biodiversity crisis, climate change, and other challenges, the scientific and public spheres have common interest in synergies that make research products more responsive to the questions of the day. Thus, practices that make it easier to compare and combine data across different inventory studies are highly desirable for deriving the maximum information value from our research investment.
The data initially displayed here are based on a series of rapid structured inventories from Vietnam. All adult spider specimens collected were sorted to morphospecies. Morphospecies concepts were cross-checked against DNA barcodes (www.boldsystems.org). Images of all morphospecies collected are available on Morphbank (www.morphbank.net), the leading taxonomic resource for archiving digital images online. At first, only a small fraction of the species included here were identified to species. But providing image libraries and DNA barcodes make it much more likely that independent investigators will be able to determine which species from their studies are shared with those shown here. As more inventories of spiders in Southeast Asia use these images and DNA barcodes, and contribute their own to freely accessible online databases, biodiversity patterns over a wide spatial scale will emerge. As the number of participating studies grows, the synergistic benefits will multiply. Images and DNA barcodes shown here are also intended to increase the impact and visibility of the collection to the taxonomic research community because specialists can easily see what was collected, request loans, and contribute identification. We encourage taxonomists to use these specimens in their research, and to follow a cybertaxonomic publication model emphasizing open access and data dissemination through a combination of print and online resources (for examples, see Miller, Griswold, & Yin, 2009; Miller, Griswold, & Haddad, 2010).
Using this site
Explore the taxonomy window to the left to browse through species pages. Each species page gives the family name, morphospecies code, and (if available) genus and species names, and the name of the taxonomist who identified it. Contact information for contributing taxonomists can be found on the Credits page. Click on any thumbnail image to view the image metadata and full size image in Morphbank, or click on the "Link to Images" to see the entire collection of images for that species on Morphbank. Specimen occurrence records are reported and the map at the right indicates the study sites where that species has been found. The icon indicates that a DNA barcode sequence for that specimen is available on the Barcode of Life Database. The comments field is intended primarily for crowd sourced taxonomic determinations. If you contribute a taxonomic identification, please provide your contact information (full name, institutional address, email) for display on our credits page. The Resources section includes a KML (Keyhole Markup Language) file for exploring all specimen occurrence records in Google Earth, all specimen occurrence records and sequence data organized using Darwin Core fields (where available), all DNA barcode sequences in Fasta format, and Neighbor-joining trees in NEWICK and graphical format for exploring DNA barcode data.
Contributing to this site
If you have conducted a structured inventory of spiders in Southeast Asia and would like to have your data incorporated into this web site, upload images of all morphospecies to Morphbank and DNA barcodes to BOLD, fill out the digitalSpiders data template spreadsheet, send thumbnail images (width 170 points, resolution 72 pixels/inch), and narrative text (and images) on study methods and results to Jeremy Miller.
Cardoso P (2009) Standardization and optimization of arthropod inventories-the case of Iberian spiders. Biodiversity and Conservation 2009, 18: 3949-3962. Link to PDF
Coddington J.A., C.E. Griswold, D. Silva Dávila, E. Peñaranda & S.F. Larcher (1991) Designing and testing sampling protocols to estimate biodiversity in tropical ecosystems. In: E.C. Dudley (ed.), The Unity of Evolutionary Biology: Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology, pp. 44-60, Dioscorides Press, Portland, OR. Link to Publication
Kremen C., R.K. Colwell, T.L. Erwin, D.D. Murphy, R.F. Noss & M.A. Sanjayan (1995) Terrestrial arthropod assemblages: their use in conservation planning. Conservation Biology, 7: 796-808. Link to PDF
Miller, J.A., C.E. Griswold & C.R. Haddad (2010) Taxonomic revision of the spider family Penestomidae (Araneae, Entelegynae). Zootaxa, 2534: 1-36. Link to PDF
Miller, J.A., C.E. Griswold & C.-M. Yin (2009) The symphytognathoid spiders of the Gaoligongshan, Yunnan, China (Araneae: Araneoidea): Systematics and diversity of micro-orbweavers. ZooKeys, 11: 9-195. Link to Publication