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Return to Nephila in Mexico
1980s, Instituto de
Ecología graduate students working at a cactus preserve outside
of the town of Tehuacán told me that they had seen Nephila clavipes. This rainforest
species was unknown from desert habitats, and I refused to believe them
– until one of them
produced a photograph.
|Thus I learned to proceed all my
declarations about distribution with "so far as I know…". They
had found Nephila, in
a habitat that was completely novel: At about 1500 m above sea level
and west of the first range of coastal mountains, the climate is
seasonally very cold with a short "wet" season that usually amounts to
less than 30 mm of rain each year.
Unfortunately, there was an unusually cold winter in about 1991, and Nephila has not been seen at this site since.
With Exequiel Ezcurra, I published a paper about the special temperature-regulating behaviors of the spiders in this population.
L. Higgins and E. Ezcurra. (1996) Thermoregulation by Nephila clavipes in a mid-altitude desert: a simulation. Functional Ecology 10: 322-327