MSc Alireza Zamani examined over 9000 spider specimens collected from different regions in Iran and discovered 147 new spider species.
Spiders are one of the largest and most diverse groups of animals on the planet, with over 50,000 known species and potentially many more that remain undiscovered. Despite the vast number of different spider species, our knowledge of their diversity and distribution remains limited, especially in regions that have not been well studied.
One of these regions is Iran, which is home to a highly diverse range of plants and animals, but has not been well investigated for its invertebrate fauna.
– To address this knowledge gap, I conducted an extensive survey of spiders in Iran, examining over 9,000 specimens collected from different regions and ecosystems. Through extensive collaboration with researchers from around the world, the research led to the exciting discovery of 11 new spider genera and 147 new spider species, as well as the identification of 419 previously unknown taxa in Iran, doctoral researcher Alireza Zamani says.
This brings the total number of known spider species in Iran to 935, with almost half of these, 466, being newly discovered or recorded in this research.
Araniella villanii: an orb-weaver spider with a wide distribution ranging from southwestern and northwestern Iran to eastern Kazakhstan and northern India. This species was named after French mathematician and spider aficionado Cédric Villani. Photo: Anatoliy Ozernoy.
Lycosa aragogi: a wolf spider from southeastern Iran, named after Aragog, the enormous, sentient arachnid character in the Harry Potter franchise. Photo: Alireza Zamani.
Loureedia phoenixi: a velvet spider from Iran, named after Joaquin Phoenix, as a reference to the similarity of the abdominal pattern of the male spider to the face paint of the movie character Joker. Photo: Alireza Zamani.
Lycosa macrophthalma: a beautiful species of wolf spider from central Iran with relatively large eyes. Photo: Alireza Zamani.
– I also analyzed the distribution patterns of spiders in Iran, finding that many areas of the country lack any spider records at all, and the distribution of records is highly uneven, with most of them concentrated near large cities.
To enhance our understanding of the diversity of spiders in Iran, it is recommended that forthcoming collection efforts concentrate on systematic surveys, rather than random or incidental sampling. Furthermore, there should be a priority on investigating areas and ecoregions that have not been adequately surveyed.
– Overall, this research highlights the incredible diversity of spiders in Iran and the importance of continuing to study and conserve these fascinating creatures. By improving our understanding of their distribution and classification, we can better identify areas of conservation priority and develop effective management strategies to protect these species for future generations, Zamani concludes.
MSc Alireza Zamani defends his dissertation in Biodiversity research entitled “Spiders of Iran – Systematics, diversity and distribution” at the University of Turku on 12 May 2023 at 12.00pm (University of Turku, Main Building, Tauno Nurmela lecture hall, Turku).
The audience can also participate in the defence remotely: https://echo360.org.uk/section/7d45741f-8854-4494-b1b8-74aa072594cf/public (copy the link to the browser).
Opponent: Professor Marine Arakelyan (Yerevan State University, Armenia)
Custos: Professor Ilari Sääksjärvi (University of Turku)
Digital copy of the dissertation at UTUPub: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-9253-9