I. Assessment and consolidation of existing data

Information is available in publications and in collections but this data needs to be consolidated into one database. The SANSA database, a MYSQL engine with a web browser based front end user application, has been developed at ARC to accommodate all the SANSA data. It will function as a taxonomic information resource to do GAP analysis, compile checklists, catalogues and other products for end users.For SANSA an information system on all arachnid species of South Africa containing information on – type status, type deposits, distribution data (locality, biome, province, collector, where deposited, notes) has been developed. Presently data from published scientific papers for This database will be the basis for all future projects.

WORKPLAN (2006-2007)

Digitising of all published records that will include both taxonomic and ecological data. This will be done at ARC-PPRI by the Pretoria team. The Spider Research Centre is in possession of 90% of all original descriptions (with translations) on African spiders. Data on all the orders will be included starting with the spiders and scorpions.

Digitising of specimen records held at the National Collection of Arachnida (NCA) + 25 000 records. This will be done at ARC-PPRI using SABIF funding.

Digitising of other museums: assessment of the status of digitizing other museums collections. The group agreed that only recently revised taxa (this will be addressed through 1 above) should be included, as most museums do not have professional arachnologists as curators and identifications could be incorrect. However Museums will be visited and unidentified material examined for inclusion (see III)
Georeferencing of data: a standard framework for georeferencing will be developed. SANBI will provide gazetteer and G-plan. This will be an ongoing process throughout the 4-year period.

II. Survey initiative

Nine arachnid orders are known from South Africa but each group is diiverse and each have their own collecting requirements.

WORKPLAN (2006-2007)

Gap analysis: after completion of the data consolidation gap analysis will be conducted using established methodology (mid 2007). These results must then be translated into a survey strategy.
New surveys: A field manager will be appointed (mid-2007) to coordinate surveys. Sampling methodology: The "Coddington's method" will be followed sampling all the field layers
Public participation: Volunteers (e.g. Spider Club), public participants (e.g. farmers, reserve managers) and locally based researchers will be encouraged to collect and photograph species and to assist with field work in different parts of the country

Independently funded surveys by universities and other interest groups need to continue, and data generated will be incorporated into the SANSA database.

III. Identification initiative

The main problem areas are the large number of species in South Africa, the variable taxonomic resolution between groups and lack of expertise and capacity. The meeting decided that the spiders and scorpions will be the two groups to focus on during phase II. However, the spiders are still too many and a list must be compiled on families and species that could be managed during phase II (i.e. revised or well-known genera). All other material will be collected and deposited in collections for later study and inclusion in Red Data listing in the future. The following list of spider species will be focuss on during SANSA phase II [read more]

WORKPLAN (2006-2007)

Taxonomic Information database: Literature for identification should be scanned and converted to .pdf format for easy access. This should be made available on AFRAD website, together with photos, taxon information (e.g. figures, distribution etc.) and Red Data Listing information. Taxon names of spiders should be standardised via Platnick's online spider catalogue.
Unidentified museum collections: Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman and Charles Haddad will visit museums to sort and identify all the unidentified material.
TraiTraining: Presently there are seven students involved in MSc and PhD studies on spiders at Universities, of which three are doing taxonomic research. The number of taxonomy students needs to increase.
Involvement of specialists from abroad: Help from international specialists is needed and is budgeted for. ADS proposed a marketing drive at the 2007 International Congress of Arachnology to promote interest in SANSA.

IV. Awareness and capacity building

WORKPLAN (2006-2007)

Several ongoing actions are in place to increase awareness of SANSA:

· Spider edu-care program (ARC)
· Courses at Universities (University of Venda, Limpopo, Pretoria and the Free State)
· Development of a virtual museum that will increase public participation in the project
· Development of website
· Newsletter for SANSA
· Radio talks, TV presentations, popular articles, and an identification and information centre
· The Spider Club can be used as a tool to promote
capacity development and the SANSA project.

V. Conservation assessment

The final outcomes and deliverables will determine the inputs needed for a thorough conservation assessment. The Red Data List will be the first step towards this. Further conservation legislation should be added if very sensitive species are identified.
The meeting decided that presently only the scorpions and some focus spider species will be included in the assessment.

VI. Product development

Products to be developed are: species lists, publications, CD's, books, lists on the website on arachnid biodiversity in South Africa.

News on the progress of SANSA will be regularly published in the newsletters or displayed on this website

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