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December 2021

Who’s behind the door?

Can you please identify this species of trapdoor spider? Their burrow entrances are turrets, like chimneys about 20 mm above ground level, and are leathery and flexible. They occur about 30 cm apart on the forest floor in wet sclerophyll forest. 

Answer

Palisade trapdoor spider (Euoplos goomboorian). Photo Michael Rix. The burrow entrance is elevated above the forest floor. Photo: Leanne Sommer. The distinctive burrow of a palisade trapdoor spider on the rainforest floor. Photo: Leanne Sommer.

Dr Jeremy Wilson is an expert on your spiders and he is able to suggest an identification of Euoplos goomboorian on the basis of shape of the burrow entrance.

These spiders belong to a group of species within the genus Euoplos called the 'turrificus-group' or ‘palisade trapdoor spiders’. Members of this group build burrows that extend slightly above the substrate. The identity of the burrow occupant is indicated by features of the burrow entrance. This means that the four currently described species can usually be separated without disturbance to the spider.

Since Jeremy and his colleagues have published their taxonomic work on the palisade trapdoor spiders in 2019, several new populations of the currently described species have been found and they are interested in the location of your spiders. It is also possible that several undescribed species are present in remnant rainforest patches further north. For whatever reason, the distribution of palisade trapdoors is particularly patchy but burrow density tends to be high wherever they occur. In the coming years Jeremy hopes to continue his work by providing an updated revision with descriptions of new populations and species of palisade trapdoor.

You can read more about Jeremy’s research on The Conversation.


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