Success in Siberia

I’m back (not that you noticed I wasn’t posting), and can give you the final summary of my field work in Siberia to look for Pellenes jumping spiders: success. It was a challenge. July is past the typical breeding season, and with most males gone to the next trophic level, we were left to look for the harder-to-find females and juveniles. In the end, we found every one of our targets.

I’ve already posted about our finding Pellenes logunovi, P. limbatus, and P. sibiricus, as well as P. gobiensis and P. stepposus. Those we found on the first major trip out from Novosibirsk, to the Altai. For the second major trip, to Tuva, there was one big target left: Pellenes pulcher.

Pellenes pulcher, a member of a distinctive group of species important for my studies, was known from only a few specimens from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The only Russian locality was in the Uvs Nuur basin, a unique area of special steppes and salt lakes that is primarily in Mongolia, but just reaches north into Tuva, a republic in the Russian Federation. The precise locality from which Dmitri Logunov had collected it more than 20 years ago was right along the Mongolian border where Uvs Nuur Lake peeks into Russia.

Pellenes pulcher, male, from the north shore of Uvs Nuur.

As happened with P. logunovi and P. gobiensis, Galina Azarkina saved the day by finding the first female of P. pulcher, thereby figuring out that they live on the rocks of their strange steppe habitat: the tiny round woody “bushes” of Nanophyton, only a centimetre or two tall, dot the landscape, making it look like a bonsai savannah. In the end we got one male and four females. As its name suggests, P. pulcher is beautiful both in appearance (striped!) and personality (vivacious! — they hop a lot). Above is the male; here is the female and other views of the male. Notice the elegantly long first legs of the male, and his reddish jaws.

Pellenes pulcher, female and male, from Tuva.

And so, in the end, we got 7 species of Pellenes. Here are the other 6, in retrospect.

P. logunovi
We got only females and juveniles. Here are two females to show variation in colours.

Pellenes logunovi females, from the Altai.

P. sibiricus
Closely related to the well-known European P. tripunctatus, we got only a few, but both males and females.

Pellenes sibiricus, female and male. We found it at Karasuk and in Tuva.

P. limbatus
We found just three, two old decrepit males, and a juvenile female. I kept the female alive, and am feeding it in hopes it will mature.

Pellenes limbatus, male, from the Altai.

P. gobiensis
We got only females and babies.

Pellenes gobiensis, females, from the Altai.

P. stepposus
Although this is currently considered a Pellenes, I suspect this isn’t a Pellenes, but rather a Sibianor. It was common on bushes in the drier steppes.

Pellenes stepposus, female and male. We found it in the Altai and Tuva.

P. epularis?
I’m not sure about the identity of this. We found four juveniles, including this one, in the Altai. They look similar to P. epularis that Galina found recently in Kazakhstan. I am trying to raise them to maturity to figure out what they are.

Juvenile Pellenes, possibly P. epularis. From the Altai.

12 thoughts on “Success in Siberia

      • Thank you, Wayne!
        There are many differences.
        Carapax. The median strip of the light setae, which is absent in the epularis. The lateral and posterior sides are covered with light setae; in the epularis it is dark brown without light setae.
        Legs. Cox, trochanter and femur yellow. Epularis has dark brown legs.
        Abdomen. The epularis has a median strip narrow in front, evenly wide on your photo.
        The general tone of the light setae is light brown throughout the body, and the epularis is light yellow. But this may not be very important.
        Unfortunately, I do not see the face of your spider. ))

      • Your photos also show a median stripe ( That’s in fact why I thought mine might be P. epularis. The other differences could be explained by age. Mine is a half-grown juvenile, which often show slightly different markings from adults. Juveniles are often less contrasting, and less dark, especially in the legs. Those are the differences you cite. Also, differences in contrast are often variable even within populations. Of course, mine might not be P. epularis, but I don’t see any convincing differences, given the difference in age.

      • May be, may be. ))
        May photos also show a median stripe on abdomen, but not carapax. And this spider juvenile too, size 3-4 mm.

      • Oh, yes of course! The strip is in front of the carapax. I said wrong, sorry. The strip is not in the back of the carapax.

      • I think this juvenile spider more similar to P. sibiricus.
        And thank you very much for these photos!

  1. No, not similar to P. sibiricus, whose juveniles are quite distinctive, with two prominent lateral bands crossing the central longitudinal band on the abdomen. Also, the carapace shapes are different. I’m quite convinced that the juvenile on this page is P. epularis or a different species closely related to it (there are multiple species it its group).

    • Pelmultus group? There are not many of them in Altai.
      P. borisi, P. geniculatus, P. nigrociliatus, P. pseudobrevis are well known to me. It is not them. Who else could it be? What do you think?

      • Yes, Pelmultus. I wouldn’t know what species. Could be a new record. It seems likely close to P. epularis at any rate. What I can say is that it’s not any of the other species we collected in the Altai (sibiricus, logunovi, stepposus, gobiensis) except possibly limbatus, but that is so dark (and with different habitat) that I doubt the juvenile is it. We have 3 juveniles still alive, so perhaps one will mature and we can figure it out.

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