T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Nusery web spider (Dolomedes schauinslandi)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Pisauridae
Genus: Dolomedes
Species: D. schauinslandi
Binomial name: Dolomedes schauinslandi
Common name: Rangatira spider

Dolomedes schauinslandi is a large nursery web spider found on Rangatira, Houruakopara and Mangere Island in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. It is one of New Zealand's largest and rarest spiders.
This species demonstrates sexual dimorphism, with male body lengths measured from >26 millimetres and females from >30.2 millimetres. Their legs can span 12 cm. Both males and females are substantially larger than other New Zealand Dolomedes species. The carapace and legs are red-brown with orange stripes on the centre and sides of the abdomen.
They are active at night in forest and shrubland habitat. They are easily found at night because their eyes shine in headlights and can be seen from 20m away. They are found on the forest floor or climbing trees searching for their preferred prey the wētā. They don’t make webs and they capture their prey by pouncing on them.

Dolomedes schauinslandi predators could include mice and weka, which could explain its absence from Pitt Island, where it was once described as common in the original species description.
Like other nursery web spider, the females make a silk nest (egg sac). Females carry this egg sac in their chelicerae (mouthparts) during November and December and guard their nursery during December to February.

A Rangatira spider on Mangere Island, New Zealand.

Dolomedes schainslandi, Rangatira spider on a dead log. Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands, New Zealand.
 

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