A Gap Analysis of Biodiversity Research in Rocky Mountain National Park: A Pilot Study on Spiders

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Chaini, Sahil
Chen, Zhenzhen
Johnson, Casey
Wu, Jianyu


Clark, James S.

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Research on biodiversity and the relationship between organisms is imperative to establish management practices for the conservation of protected areas. The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation (EOWBF) formed our team of four Duke University students as the first of many ATBI/BioBlitz SWAT teams to travel to protected areas and develop approaches to conduct biodiversity research that can inform their conservation. Our project consisted of two elements. First, our team assessed the current status of biodiversity research at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to determine major gaps in the understanding of biodiversity. We used available species lists from research conducted in the Park to ensure that the National Park species database, NPSpecies, contained the most up-to-date information. Our team then added 645 species of plants and fungi to the database through this process. One of the identified gaps was a lack of research on spiders in the park. The second element of our study was a pilot analysis of spider biodiversity, to identify as many species in the park as possible and to relate their occurrences to environmental variables. Over 300 spider specimens were collected, 157 of which were identified, representing 51 species. Specimens were collected from three non-wilderness sites in RMNP at three different times of day (morning, afternoon, and night), over a span of ten days (July 16 - 25, 2014). The three sites represent a range of elevations (2,398 - 2,923 meters) and habitats. Cost-effective methods were utilized and evaluated for future spider research. We propose a more thorough spider survey in RMNP that can better inform management of the Park by providing information about spider diversity, abundance, function, and how spiders can be used as ecological indicators.





Chaini, Sahil, Zhenzhen Chen, Casey Johnson and Jianyu Wu (2015). A Gap Analysis of Biodiversity Research in Rocky Mountain National Park: A Pilot Study on Spiders. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9630.

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