Arachnids offer a unique perspective for biodiversity surveys. They do so for several reasons: arachnids are one of the five largest taxa in the arthropods and their diversity is a magnitude greater than that of larger sized animals. They tend to have narrower distributions than vertebrates, allowing a more fine-grained sampling of geography. They show higher rates of endemism than other taxa at a given site. In most cases they are easily inventoried and identified provided the tools are available. Their basic systematics are reasonably well known and a global catalogue summarizing the knowledge of the largest order in this animal group is available on line (Platnick 2003).

Most African countries have hardly started or are still in the process of compiling baseline information on arachnids in the form of national checklists. The absence of species lists is a serious obstacle when it comes to conservation and sustainable use. With AFRAD we hope to provide a stimulus to increase Arachnida research in Africa. Although the project is still in its initial phase, several studies have been completed or are in progress since it was launched. All these data would be made available on-line.


AFRAD: Detailed information on all the SPIDER AND SCORPION FAMILIES, GENERA AND SPECIES of the Afrotropical Region, with keys to subfamilies, genera and species (if available) and information on their behaviour, distribution, research undertaken, list of genera and species now available as a FACT SHEET richly illustrated with drawings and photographs.


Co-ordinators :
A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: dippenaara
R. Jocqué, e-mail: