Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The web of this spider is more like a sock than a purse. The web forms a tube, part of which lines a burrow; the remainder lies along the surface of the ground, disguised with soil particles (3). When insects land on this tube, the spider grabs them with its fangs and drags them inside where they are eaten. The remains of the meal are later thrown out of the tube and the hole is repaired (2). The spider spends most of its life inside this tube; only young spiderlings and males in search of females actively wander (3). Mating occurs in autumn. When a male finds a burrow occupied by a female he will tap on the silk tube. If the female is receptive, she allows the male to enter the burrow where they mate. They live together in the female's burrow for a time until the male dies. The female eats the male, and the nutrients contained within his body contribute to the developing eggs. The female produces an egg sac which she suspends within the tube. The eggs hatch the next summer but the young spiders will not disperse until the spring of the following year. It takes around 4 years for individuals to reach sexual maturity. Males die following mating, but the females live for several years more (3).
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Description

This spider belongs to the same suborder (Orthognatha) as tarantulas, funnel web spiders and trap-door spiders. Just one genus belonging to the family Atypidae is found in Britain, and it is represented by this species alone (2). The name of the suborder Orthognatha means 'straight jawed'. This name refers to the chelicerae, a pair of appendages on the 'head' of the spider which are used to kill prey. In this suborder, the chelicerae project forwards from the carapace (2). This species is easy to identify, it has a squarish carapace and large, stout chelicerae, and the legs are stocky (3). Males are similar in appearance to females, but have longer legs and a thinner abdomen (2).
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Distribution

Range

This spider is found mainly in southern England, but has been found in Scotland and Wales (2). In Europe this species has a wide range, reaching as far north as Denmark (3).
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Ecology

Habitat

Inhabits rough grassland and heathland (2) on sandy or chalky soils (3).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Atypus affinis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

This widespread species is not threatened. It is not listed under any conservation designations (3).
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Threats

This species is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at this widespread species.
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Wikipedia

Atypus affinis

The Purseweb spider (Atypus affinis) is a common mygalomorph spider from Europe.

It is found mainly in southern England but ranging as far north as Southern Sweden and as far south as North Africa. It is the only British mygalomorph spider. The purse-web spider was previously known from Denmark, but as it hadn't been seen for 60 years despite persistent searching, it was considered extinct. In 1994, it was rediscovered in Jutland.[1]

These spiders are black or brownish and not particularly large; the males are about 7-9mm while the females are larger at 10-15mm. They look much like Atypus piceus, but spiderlings are often very lightly colored, and the three-part posterior spinnerets do not have a light blot. Like other mygalomorph spiders, it has fangs that point straight down rather than crossing.

This spider spins an unusual web. It creates a tube of silk that is hidden partially underground, with the portion above ground being covered in leaves and other debris. The spider waits for an insect to land or crawl onto the tube, then bites through the silk to pull the insect inside. These spiders usually do not leave their webs for any reason other than mating.

These spiders become sexually mature at about four years. Autumn is the mating season, when the male spiders will seek out a female spider and enter her burrow where they live together until the male dies soon after mating. The female lays her egg sac inside the tube and the spiderlings hatch out the following summer, remaining with their mother for nearly another year after that.

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Danish spider. Natural History Museum of Denmark. University of Copenhagen ([1])
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