Submitted by Frederick A. Coyle (Biology Department, Western Carolina University,
Cullowhee, NC 28723; email and James C. Cokendolpher (2007 29th Street, Lubbock, Texas 79411; email


Spider Inventory

Coyle has been devoting nearly all of his research effort for the past five years to an inventory of the spiders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Most of the funding for the project has come from the National Science Foundation, but seed grants were also provided by Western Carolina University and the National Park Service. Although Coyle began this project before the Great Smokies ATBI plan was developed, the products of his inventory project should contribute nicely to the ATBI goals. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the project (which will probably take three more years to complete) and results to date:

The key objectives are to determine what spider species live in the GSMNP and how they are distributed among the park's habitats. The results will be distributed via the Internet in the form of an electronic database (Biota) and spider identification guide useful for testing ecological hypotheses and species richness estimators, facilitating further research on spiders, managing resources, and educating park visitors. Coyle and his students have collected about 2380 samples (about 1930 1-hr samples and 450 1 meter sq. litter samples) containing roughly 180,000 spiders (approximately 42,000 adults) from 17 intensively sampled focal sites representative of 16 of the park's major biotic community types and from numerous, but less intensively sampled, accessory sites representing additional habitats. The number of sample units per focal site ranges from 48 (spruce-fir) to 112 (hardwood cove). Coyle's sampling protocol, a modified Coddington protocol, has been field tested in tropical and temperate forests, and involves a team of collectors using four standardized methods that sample spiders in all microhabitats and vegetation strata except the forest canopy. The protocol yields large and statistically tractable replicate data sets which reflect the relative abundance of species in the sites and habitats studied and consequently provide comparable views of species richness, taxonomic composition, and guild structure across diverse communities and regions.

To date, about 85% of the adult spiders have been sorted to morphospecies, about 35% of the adults have been identified, and 15% have been entered into the Biota database. The adults identified to date comprise 461 species, 39 of which (8%) appear to be undescribed. Four papers based on this inventory are in press and five others are in preparation. These papers include analyses of the habitat distribution patterns, life cycles, and behavior of some of the most common spider species, descriptions of the spider assemblage structure of selected sites, and evaluations of the effectiveness of species richness estimators.

Opilionid, Pseudoscorpion, and Scorpion Inventory and Arachnid Web Page Construction

In the fall of 1999, Cockendolpher completed the following work supported by a seed grant from DLIA. Thirty-two 1 meter sq. litter samples collected by Fred Coyle and his spider survey team were sorted and the Opiliones (harvestmen), Pseudoscorpiones, and Scorpiones were removed and labeled. The harvestmen and scorpions were identified. Members of these same two orders were also identified from an additional 30 1 meter sq. litter samples collected by Coyle's team and previously sorted by William Shear. The pseudoscorpions have been segregated but not identified yet. Specimens from a few dozen other litter samples collected by Fred Coyle and Robb Bennett were also identified as well as all recent collections of harvestmen collected by Will Reeves in caves in the GSMNP. Identifications were also made of harvestmen collected primarily in pitfall traps by Fred Hain and Felton Hastings during their 1995-1996 survey of the arthropods from GSMNP hemlock sites.

A significant number of files were created for the DLIA webpage. Altogether 84 files were sent to be loaded on the DLIA site. Sixty-three of these files were graphics files, which included many photographs. The last of these files were sent to John Pickering on 23 November, but by the date of this writing, they had not been added to the WWW. The earlier files are now on the DLIA web site under "checklist." A copy of the files was sent on CD-ROM to John Morse so that they can be viewed during the December DLIA meeting.

The files created for the Internet are the frameworks to which future documents can be inserted or linked. Specific items completed are:

1. Illustrated key to the five arachnid orders occurring in the GSMNP: Araneae, Acari, Opiliones, Pseudoscorpiones, and Scoropiones
Illustrated keys to the suborders, families, and genera of Opiliones, Pseudoscorpiones, and Scorpiones known to occur in North Carolina and Tennessee with notes on those taxa known or suspected of occurring in the GSMNP.

2. Checklists of Opiliones, Pseudoscorpiones, and Scorpiones known from North Carolina and Tennessee with notations as to which taxa have been recorded from the GSMNP. A checklist (based on data supplied by Fred Coyle) of the 461 species of Araneae currently known from the GSMNP was completed. A page was setup for the Acari, but this was simply a placeholder as no checklist has thus far been prepared.
Cokendolpher contacted museum curators arranging for loans of material of opilionids and pseudoscorpions collected from the Park. He also contacted, with negative results, several acarologists, in an effort to locate someone interested in working on the Acari of the GSMNP checklist. He borrowed slide mounted examples of all genera of pseudoscorpions from the Park region and started obtaining relevant literature on members of this order. He also perfected a method for using a digital camera on a microscope for preparing images to be used on
the Internet.


Spider Inventory

Coyle expects to finish identifying all spiders by the end of 2000. Then he will complete database entry, place the database on the Internet, and begin producing the electronic and hardcopy identification guide to the spiders of the GSMNP. The database should be on the Internet by the end of 2001. The guide will probably require several years to complete.

Opilionid, Pseudoscorpion, and Scorpion Inventory and Arachnid Web Page Construction

Cokendolpher's goals (contingent upon the availability of funds) include the following: Continue to contact acarologists in an effort to locate researchers interested in working on the Acari of the GSMNP. Continue to contact museums looking for additional material collected within the Park. Obtain an account through Pickering so that files can be added directly to the DLIA WebPages. Continue to update the checklist already on the DLIA WebPages. Refine keys already on the DLIA WebPages, with emphasis on substituting labeled photographs for drawings. Add keys to the species of opilionids and pseudoscorpions in the Park. Set up architecture for the arachnid section of DLIA WebPages so that future pages will have page-holders/links established. (The arachnids are one of the most numerous classes in the Park and the data should be setup in a logical fashion from the start or it will be hopelessly confusing in a few years.) Start work on species accounts of opilionids, pseudoscorpions, and scorpions. Prepare a web page discussing bark traps and the preliminary results from the planned August 2000 sampling. Sort GSMNP litter samples housed at the Field Museum of Natural History. Continue sorting of the 400+ 1-meter square litter samples collected by Coyle. Re-sort some (or all if necessary) of the 30 samples previously sorted by Shear to see if the tiny (under 1 mm) pseudoscorpions were overlooked or just absent. Start identifications of the pseudoscorpions; continue identifications of all harvestmen and scorpions. Make preliminary counts of all taxa and numbers obtained from bark traps during the planned August 2000 sampling effort.

Cokendolpher hopes to travel to GSMNP and conduct research for 2-3 weeks during late July and August 2000. He will examine specimens in museum collection at the GSMNP and work with students from San Francisco State University (Wildlands Study Program) during part of their stay in the Park. With their assistance, he will photograph living specimens for use on species pages, hand collect under rocks, logs, and in mosses and other smaller habitats missed by Coyle's litter sampling, hand collect night-active arachnids with UV and headlights, collect numerous samples with corrugated cardboard bark traps, obtain data on the effectiveness of this method of collecting in a variety of forest types (hopefully in ATBI Biodiversity Reference Points), and collect litter samples from vacated animal nest, tree holes, and other cryptic habitats (These samples will be processed by Tullgren or Berlese funnels).


Spider Inventory

Immediate (year 2000): A GSMNP staff biologist will need to mark, obtain GPS location data, and characterize the vegetation of each of the 17 focal sites used in the spider survey.
Year 2001: Wages ($3000) for person to enter data into Biota database.

Opilionid, Pseudoscorpion, and Scorpion Inventory and Arachnid Web Page Construction

Immediate (year 2000): Funding to cover Cokendolpher's laboratory and office hours spent on this project (estimated: $5000-10000; total will determine the number of hours dedicated to this project at $50/hour). Funding for Cokendolpher's trip to the GSMNP during July and August (estimated $1960: lodging $45/day= $945; food $15/day=$315; travel $700). Miscellaneous equipment needed (estimated $880: soft forceps for students, UV lights, headlamps for students, batteries, litter concentrators, Berlese funnels, plastic and cloth bags, rolls of corrugated cardboard, tape, GPS unit, topo maps, sorting trays.