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30 New Spider Species Discovered in China

Dec 04, 2014 05:00 PM EST
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Xishuangbana rainforest
A team of scientists has recently discovered 30 new spider species in China, with the promise of hundreds more waiting to be found, according to a new study.

(Photo : Shuqiang Li; CC-BY 4.0)

A team of scientists has recently discovered 30 new spider species in China, with the promise of hundreds more waiting to be found, according to a new study.

The Xishuangbanna tropical rainforest, located in the southern part of Yunnan in China, boasts incredible biodiversity. It is home to over 10 thousand species of tropical and subtropical plants alone, earning it the title of "Kingdom of Tropical Fauna and Flora."

However, due to the rich fauna of rainforests and extreme diversity of species - as well as the hardships of the terrain - researchers have yet to fully comprehend how many animal species are hidden in this biodiversity hotspot. And in what is likely just a small part of the bigger picture, a team of scientists from the Institute of Zoology with the Chinese Academy of Sciences has discovered 30 new spider species.

"The amazing biological diversity we have witnessed during our work on spiders in Huladao is perhaps only a part of what Xishuangbanna tropical rain forests hold," study lead author Professor Shuqiang Li said in a statement.

The new study doesn't shed light on other animal species in the rainforest, but it does attempt to unveil the mystery of the region's spiders. Covering only about 200 hectare (about 500 acres) of Xishuangbanna, an area called Huludao has yielded a collection of approximately 700 spider species since researchers began collecting samples in 2006.

And aside from the 30 new spider species described in the journal ZooKeys, Li says his team still has around 100 other spiders that they found that have yet to be officially reported.

Li and his colleagues hope that their findings also show why safeguarding of rainforests from deforestation and other human activities is important.

"Studying the flora and fauna in biodiversity hotspots like these attests for the importance of their preservations, and gives a sad insight of what was lost with the destruction of forests elsewhere," he added.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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