A total of 14 tarantula species have been described as occurring in Arizona. The published descriptions of most species are inadequate, making species-level identifications of specimens exceedingly difficult. As a result, the validity of most Aphonopelma species in Arizona is very much in question. The Aphonopelma fauna of Arizona, along with that of several other southwestern states, has received very little attention and current published research is virtually nonexistent; an unfortunate fact given the ecological diversity of this region and a concomitant potential for new, undescribed species. The county records above reflect only the limited published distributional data available (Chamberlin and Ivie, 1939; Chamberlin, 1940; Smith, 1995; Prentice, 1997). A significant amount of work needs to be conducted in Arizona to assess the taxonomic status and distribution of species across the state.
- Chamberlin, R. V. 1940. New American tarantulas of the family Aviculariidae. Bulletin of the University of Utah 30:1-39.
- Chamberlin, R.V. and W. Ivie. 1939. New tarantulas from the southwestern states. Bulletin of the University of Utah 29:1-17.
- Prentice, T.R. 1997. Theraphosidae of the Mojave Desert west and north of the Colorado River (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae). Journal of Arachnology 25:137-176.
- Smith, A. M. 1995. Tarantula spiders: tarantulas of the U.S.A. and Mexico. Fitzgerald Publishing, London.
Below are a few PDFs I developed for elementary age kids during the Arkansas Tarantula Survey in 2004.
My interest in native tarantulas first began back in 2003 while working for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. While there, I came across a copy of Margaret Janowski-Bell’s dissertation (Janowski-Bell, 2001) which dealt with the distribution and ecology of Aphonopelma hentzi in Missouri. One chapter of her dissertation detailed a state-wide citizen-science survey she developed to map the distribution of A. hentzi. She also made the case that these spiders were potentially of some conservation concern given their dependence upon a fragmented and isolated habitat type (glades) and susceptibility to commercial collection.
I decided to emulate her citizen-science survey to map the distribution of tarantulas in Arkansas as well as to bring more attention to these spiders as conservation targets. The survey was conducted during 2004 and received several hundred reports from observers across Arkansas. The results of my survey are detailed in Warriner (2008) as well as on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s website (Arkansas Tarantula Survey).
Currently, Arkansas and Missouri are the only states in the United States to have conducted a state-wide distributional survey of tarantulas. The citizen-science model I applied in Arkansas was actually quite cost efficient and effective at generating a substantial amount of usable distributional
data over a short amount of time.
- Janowski-Bell, M.E. 2001. Ecology of an American tarantula, Aphonopelma hentzi (Girard) (Theraphosidae). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia.
- Warriner, M.D. 2008. Distribution and taxonomic status of tarantulas in Arkansas (Theraphosidae: Aphonopelma). Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 62:107-114.
A total of 12 states in the United States contain published records of Aphonopelma species. The eastern limit for Aphonopelma in this country is the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Some non-native tarantula species have been introduced into Florida. No Aphonopelma species naturally occurs east of the Mississippi River.