ASK about the species and sequencing.
CHAT in a 30 minute text chat with the species champion.
VOTE for a species to be sequenced for the first time ever!
Yes, there are 3 populations of me in the UK
approximately 2.2 Gb
500 million years or more
I should be sequenced because... The fen raft spider genome will help us understand how spider silk and venom have evolved and help save this beautiful, endangered species
One sentence about me... I am an animal whose genome holds information about things like venom and silk that we might be able to use in medicine and engineering
I am a beautiful, semi-aquatic spider who lives in reed beds by the sides of freshwater ponds. I eat insects and other invertebrates – and sometimes even small fish.
I need to be near water for all stages of my life cycle. As an adult I’m able to dive under the surface of the water and stay there for up to 40 minutes at a time. If you look carefully you can see that when I dive I take with me airbubbles trapped in the hairs around my body, so effectively I’m able to pull myself under water despite being covered in bouyancy aids!
I sometimes have stripes on my body – and sometimes not. Either way I look incredibly elegant as I run across the water’s surface, or take a dive down below the surface. When I am looking after my eggs I carefully hold them in an egg sac in my mouth for several weeks, until it is time to hatch. At that point I make a ‘nursery’ for the tiny spiderlings using silken threads. I sit close by and make sure that no other predators are able to invade this nest. Once my spiderlings have grown a bit they tend to fly away using silk as a sail to lift them up into the air.
I am an endangered spider in the UK because I need fresh water habitats for all of my life cycle stages and these habitats are rare. There seems to be something else going on too, because even in areas where I used to thrive my populations are not doing so well. It might be that there is something in the environment that is harming me (a pollutant perhaps?) or it could be that my populations have become so small that they have accumulated genetic problems from which they cannot recover. This is something that we know happens in animals such as pedigree dogs and cats – and the same possibility of problems in my genes is also true for me.
I can talk to other spiders by using all of my 8 legs to drum across the surface of the water that I am sat on. I can also use these legs to tap other spiders on their legs and probably also to send chemical signals telling them who I am. If I could talk to you now I would ask you to find out a bit more about me – I belong here in the wetland habitats of this country and I would like to stay.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
beautiful, semi-aquatic spider
What's it like where you live?
wetlands, clean water, open, sunny vegetation
What's your favourite food?
small insects - but if I can find them I will also eat tiny fish (I have been known to surf on fishes' backs as they try to swim away)
What's your family life like?
I look after my egg sacs until they hatch, then I build a silken nursery for the spiderlings to live in until they move away
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
I am extremely threatened by habitat loss and my populations have declined rapidly leaving just 3 in the UK - in fact if you don't help me I am likely to disappear from the UK soon
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
I 'talk' to other members of my species by drumming on the surface of the water. This acts as a special 'code' and tells others who I am and what I'm doing