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Leading spider scientists to gather in Christchurch

More than 200 experts in all things eight-legged will arrive in Canterbury next week for the biggest event on the world arachnology calendar.

The 21st International Congress of Arachnology, which runs from 10 to 15 February, will feature presentations on some of the latest research on arachnids.

Arachnids include spiders, scorpions, harvestmen and pseudoscorpions.

New Zealand is a special place in the world of arachnology because it is home to an estimated 2,200 arachnid species, 95% of which are found nowhere else in the world.

The International Congress of Arachnology has been organised every 3 years since 1959 by members of the International Society of Arachnology.

Dr Cor Vink, arachnologist and Curator Natural History at Canterbury Museum, organised this year’s congress with the help of colleagues in New Zealand and overseas. This is the first time the congress has been held in New Zealand.

“It’s really exciting to have the congress in New Zealand for the first time,” Dr Vink says. “They are the best of the conferences that I get to attend; they’re like a reunion of friends where everyone talks about arachnids.”

Scientists from 32 different countries will share their latest research in 160 talks covering arachnid taxonomy, behaviour, physiology, ecology and public outreach. In addition, more than 40 posters presenting new research will be displayed at Lincoln University.

Highlights of the speaking programme include a plenary talk by Klaus Birkhofer from the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg on the effects of farming on spider communities and the role spiders can play in agricultural pest control.

More information about the congress and its speaking programme is available on the International Society of Arachnology website.


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