Entomologists from the UPLB Museum of Natural History have described two new species of spiders discovered in Mt. Makiling, Luzon, Philippines.

Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo and Dr. Alberto T. Barrion, curators at the MNH Entomology Section recently reported in two scientific journals of their discovery of the orb-weaver spider Prolochus junlitjri and the comb-footed spider Chrysso makiling.

Dr. Barrion-Dupo is also a Professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences at UPLB while Dr. Barrion is Adjunct Curator of spiders, parasitic hymenoptera and rice arthropods at the Museum.

In an article published in the Philippine Entomologist, Dupo and Barrion reported finding an orb-weaver in the Molawin Creek in Mt. Makiling which they described, illustrated and named Prolochus junlitjri.

According to the authors Prolochus is a new distinct genus within the subfamily Dolichognathinae under family Tetragnathidae. Spiders which are members of the Dolichognatha make orb-webs which are commonly seen in gardens.

"For so long, Prolochus was synonymized under Dolichognatha by taxonomists because there is only one type-species on record, the P. longipes from Burma described by Tamerlan Thorell, a Swedish arachnologist, in 1895," Barrion said in an interview.

With the discovery and description of P. junlitjri, Prolochus has now been recognized by the authors as a separate genus because of the four principal features that distinguish it from Dolichognatha: total absence of posterior median eyes; dorsal abdomen without dorsal humps or tubercles; shape of abdomen; and palpal organ.

P. junlitjri Barrion-Dupo & Barrion, n. sp. is now the second species known for the genus Prolochus. Its discovery in the Philippines now extends its genus' distribution from Myanmar to Luzon Island, Philippines.

Aside from P. junlitjri, the two scientists have also found a new Theridiidae or comb-footed spider in Mt. Makiling which they named Chrysso makiling.

Theridiid spiders have a comb of serrated setae on the fourth tarsus. They are sedentary and typically construct an irregular web with sticky strands. The web is usually built under cover by rocks, branches or a leaf.

Chrysso makiling has been formally described in the journal Asia Life Sciences. According to the journal, C. makiling Barrion-Dupo & Barrion n. sp. was collected from small trees and shrubs under the dipterocarp trees near the Mudspring area of the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve.

Only six species of Chrysso have been so far recorded in the Philippines and C. makiling is now the seventh species from the country and the 33rd species known worldwide.

"The discovery of the two species of spiders in Mt. Makiling even further fortifies the importance of the Makiling Forest Reserve as a key biodiversity conservation area," relates Dr. Ireneo L. Lit, Jr., director of the Museum of Natural History.

Being home to a large number of biological species, several of which are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Mt. Makiling has been chosen as the 5th ASEAN Heritage Park in the Philippines.

"Spiders also deserve to be conserved and protected especially because they help farmers maintain thepopulations of pest species below economically damaging levels," Lit added.

The two new species decriptions have been a research output of a father-and-daughter tandem. "Of course, we could not have accomplished this without the help of the National Research Council of the Philippines which funded our work," the elder Barrion said.


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