I’ve looked forward to this Siberia trip for many reasons, one of which is the chance to learn about aelurilline jumping spiders from the world expert. Aelurillines have been the primary focus of study by my host in Siberia, Galina Azarkina, for almost 20 years. In North America we see them rarely, as only one native species lives there: the striped Phlegra hentzi, whose males have a pale blue face. It lives alongside the much more common and diverse Habronattus, on open sunny ground with dry leaf litter. In Eurasia and Africa, however, aelurillines are diverse and common, occupying habitats very similar to those of my familiar Habronattus back home.
In just a few days of collecting I’ve now seen 7 species of aelurillines: Phlegra fasciata and two Asianellus at Karasuk, three species of Aelurillus at Kuray, and an Asianellus at Kokorya. I must say, aelurillines are charming. Here is the most dramatic, a beautiful male Aelurillus from the Kuray steppe:
He has especially long, spiny legs:
I look forward to seeing more aelurilline diversity as we continue our explorations here in Siberia.