- Spider (Arachnida: Araneae) distribution across the timberline in the Swiss Central Alps (Alp Flix, Grisons) and three morphologically remarkable species (2007)
- We collected 6251 adult epigeic spiders from the dwarf-shrub heath to subalpine coniferous forest on Alp Flix (CH, canton Grisons, 1950 m) between May 2005 and May 2006 using pitfall traps. Total species richness and activity density of all species decreased from the open land to the forest, although this pattern varied according to family. The distribution of the 102 species found indicates that the small area around a single tree at the timberline provides habitats for both open land and forest spider species as well as some possible timberline specialists. Five species were new to the canton Grisons: Centromerita bicolor, Centromerita concinna, Hilaira excisa, Meioneta alpica and Tallusia experta. Three species showed remarkable morphological characteristics and were analysed in more detail. We found males of Pelecopsis radicicola without the characteristic longitudinal depression on the raised carapace. It is shown that the males of Meioneta alpica have a considerably variable lamella characteristica, which is nevertheless distinct from the sister species Meioneta ressli. Because we found intermediate forms of the head region described for Metopobactrus prominulus and M. schenkeli, respectively, M. schenkeli is considered a syn. nov. of M. prominulus. This study shows that the known distribution and taxonomic status of various spider taxa in the Central Alps are still incomplete and further work on arthropods in remote areas should be strongly encouraged.