Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences
ISSN (Print): 2328-3912 ISSN (Online): 2328-3920 Website: Editor-in-chief: Alejandro González Medina
Open Access
Journal Browser
Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2020, 8(6), 544-555
DOI: 10.12691/aees-8-6-29
Open AccessArticle

Observations on Ecology and Behavior of Two Species of Theraphosid Spiders from the Western Ghats of Goa, India; with Notes on Their Conservation Concerns

Manoj Ramakant Borkar1, and Mohini Seth1

1School of Arachnology, Biodiversity Research Cell, Department of Zoology, Carmel College for Women, Nuvem-Goa, India

Pub. Date: November 04, 2020

Cite this paper:
Manoj Ramakant Borkar and Mohini Seth. Observations on Ecology and Behavior of Two Species of Theraphosid Spiders from the Western Ghats of Goa, India; with Notes on Their Conservation Concerns. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2020; 8(6):544-555. doi: 10.12691/aees-8-6-29


This research addresses gaps in information on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and in situ behaviour of Indian Violet (Chilobrachys fimbriatus Pocock, 1899) and Lesser Goa Mustard or Karwar Large Burrowing spider (Thrigmopoeus truculentus Pocock, 1899) in the precincts of Western Ghats in the Indian state of Goa. Populations of these two theraphosid spiders were studied during the monsoon and winter seasons through 2018-19. Besides a comparative data on gross morphology and morphometry; observations were recorded on the habitat and microhabitat characteristics, distribution, density and construct of burrows across two seasons; and in situ behaviour of both the species. An interesting aspect of this study is the comparative fine morphology of spider silk; and assessment of the regional conservation threats of the two species, of which T. truculentus falls under ‘Near Threatened’ IUCN category, while Chilobrachys fimbriatus is considered to be a ‘Least Concern’ species.

theraphosidae ecology behavior fine structure pet trade conservation thrigmopoeus truculentus chilobrachys fimbriatus SEM

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Siliwal M., Molur S. and Raven, R., “Arthropods and their Conservation in India” ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife & Protected Areas, Wildlife institute of India, pp 175-188.2013.
[2]  Platnick, N.I., “The world spider catalog, version 13.5,” American Museum of Natural History, Jan 2013. Available: (assessed: 5th September 2020).
[3]  Dhali, D. C., Sureshan, P. M. and Kailash Chandra, “Diversity and Distribution of Indian Primitive Spiders (Araneae: Opisthothelae: Mygalomorphae) in Different State Including an Annotated Checklist,” World Scientific News, 37, 88-100, Jan. 2016.
[4]  Fukushima C, Mendoza J.I., West, R.C., Longhorn, S,J. Rivera, E., Cooper EWT, Hénaut Y, Henriques S, Cardoso P., “Species conservation profiles of tarantula spiders (Araneae, Theraphosidae) listed on CITES,” Biodiversity Data Journal,7: e39342. Nov. 2019.
[5]  Molur, S. and Siliwal, M., “Common names of South Asian theraphosid spiders (Araneae: Theraphosidae),” Zoos’ Print Journal, 19(10): 1657-1662, Sept. 2004.
[6]  West, R.C., “The Brachypelma of Mexico”, Journal of the British Tarantula Society, 20(4): 108119, 2005.
[7]  Siliwal M, Molur Sanjay and Robert Raven, “Mygalomorphs of India: An overview”, ENVIS Bulletin. Arthopods and their conservation in India, 14(1), 2011.
[8]  Molur S., Siliwal M. and Daniel, B.A., “At last! Indian tarantulas on IUCN Red List,” Zoos' Print, 23(12): 1-3, Jan 2008.
[9]  Bastawade D.B. and Borkar, M., “Arachnida (orders Scorpiones, Uropygi, Amblypygi, Araneae and Phalangida), In: Fauna of Goa State Fauna Series”, Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, 16: 211-242. 2008.
[10]  Pandit. R. & Dharwadkar, M, “Preliminary checklist of spider fauna (Araneae: Arachnida) of Chandranath Hill, Goa, India”, Journal of Threatened Taxa, 12(11): 16597-16606, Aug.2020.
[11]  Siliwal, M. & Molur S., “Redescription, distribution and status of the Karwar Large Burrowing Spider Thrigmopoeus truculentus Pocock, 1899 (Aranae: Theraphosidae), a Western Ghats endemic ground mygalomorph”, Journal of threatened Taxa, 1(6): 331-339, June 2009.
[12]  Pandit R. and Pai I., “Spiders of Taleigao Plateau Goa India,” Journal of Environmental Science and Public Health, 1(4) 240-252, Jan. 2017.
[13]  Pe´rez-Miles, F, Fernando G. Costa, Carlos Toscano-Gadea and Antonio Mignone’ “Ecology and behaviour of the ‘road tarantulas’ Eupalaestrus weijenberghi and Acanthoscurria suina (Araneae, Theraphosidae) from Uruguay,” Journal of Natural History, 39(6): 483-498. Feb. 2005.
[14]  Canning, Gregory, Reilly, Brian Kevin and Dippenaar-Schoeman, Ansie S., “Aspects of the ecology and behaviour of the Seychelles theraphosid Nesiergus insulanus (Arachnida: Araneae: Theraphosidae)”, African Invertebrates, Vol. 56 (1): 167-180. June.2015.
[15]  Shillington, Cara & Verrell, Paul., “Sexual Strategies of a North American ‘Tarantula’ (Araneae: Theraphosidae)”, Ethology, 103. 588-598, April 2010.
[16]  Berge, Bjorn, “Predatory behavior of theraphosid spiders in Northern Queensland”, Masters (Research) Thesis, James Cook University, 2003, pp 176.
[17]  Champion, H.G. and Seth, S.K, “A revised survey of forests types of India”, Govt of India, New Delhi,p 404. 1968.
[18]  Hamilton, D. E., “Combining direct methods (PIT tags and radiotelemetry) with an indirect method (mtDNA) to measure movement and dispersal at different scales in North American tarantulas (Aphonopelma spp.)”, Texas digital library, Texas Tech University. 2008.
[19]  Bertani, R., “Revision, cladistic analysis, and zoogeography of Vitalius, Nhandu, and Proshapalopus; with notes on other Theraphosine Genera (Araneae, Theraphosidae)”. Arquivos De Zoologia (São Paulo), 36(3), 265-356, Apr. 2001.
[20]  Jimenez-Valverde, A., and Hortal, J., “Las curvas de acumulación de especies y la necesidad de evaluar la calidad de los inventarios biológicos.,” Revista Ibérica De Aracnología, 8, 151-161, Jan 2003.
[21]  Marc, P. Canard A. and Ysnel, F., “Spiders: (Aranae) Useful for pest limitation and bioindication”, Agriculture, ecosystems and environment, 7(1): 229-273. Aug 1999.
[22]  Ferretti, N., Schwerdt, L., Peralta, L., Farina, J., and Pompozzi, G., “Nuevosdatos de distribución de Grammostola burzaquensis Ibarra-Grasso, 1946 (Araneae, Theraphosidae) en el Sistema serrano de Tandilia.” Historia Natural, 6(1), 75-82. July 2016.
[23]  Johnston, J.M., “The contribution of microarthropods to above ground food webs: A review and model of belowground transfer in a coniferous forest,” American Midland Naturalist, 143: 226-238, Jan 2000.
[24]  Whitmore, C. Slotow, R., Crouch, T.E, and Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S, “Diversity of spiders (Araneae), in a savannah reserve, Northern province, South Africa. Journal of Arachnology, 30: 344-356. Aug.2002.
[25]  Thulsi Rao, K., Bastawade, D.B., Maqsood Javed, S.M. and Siva Rama Krishna, I, “Arachnid fauna of Nallamalai Region, EasternGhats, Andhra Pradesh, India”, Rec.Zool.Survey of India, Occ, 239: 1-42. July, 2005.
[26]  Etienne Low-Decarie, Marcus Kobler, Paige Homme, Andrea Lofano, Alex Dumbrell, Andrew and Graham Bell, “Community rescue in experimental metacommunities”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(46): 14307-14312. Nov. 2015.
[27]  Lee Hannah, Lorraine Flint, Alexander D. Syhard, Max A. Moritz Lauren B. Buckley, and Ian M. McCullough, “Fine-grain modeling of species response to climate change: holdouts, stepping-stones, and microfugia”, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 29(7). July 2014.
[28]  Hilary A. Hayford, Sarah E. Gilman and Emily Carrington, “Foraging behviour minimizes heat exposure in a complex thermal landscape”, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 518: 165-175. Jan. 2015.
[29]  Raymond B. Huey, Charles R. Peterson, Stevan J. Arnold, Warren P. Porter, “Hot rocks and not so hot rocks: Retreat site by selection by Garter snakes and its thermal consequences”, Ecology, 70(4): 931-944. Aug. 1989.
[30]  Chadwick Johnson, J., “Cohabitation of juvenile females with mature males promotes sexual cannibalism in fishing spiders”, Behavioural Ecology, 16(1): 269-273. Aug 2004.
[31]  Siliwal M. and B. Ravichandran, “Commensalism in microhylid Frogs and mygalomorph spiders”, ZOOS Print, 23, 8. Aug. 2008.
[32]  Cloudsley-Thompson, J.L., “A review of the anti-predator devices of spiders”, Bull. Br. arachnol, Soc, 10 (3), 81-96, 1995.
[33]  Lapinski, W. and Marco Tschapka., “Vertical distribution of wandering spiders in Central America” Journal of Arachnology, 46: 13-20, Apr 2018.
[34]  Carel J.J. Richter, “Relation between habitat structure and development of glandulae ampullaceae in eight wolf spider species (Pardosa, Araneae, Lycosidae),” Oecologia, 5, 185-199. Sept. 1990.
[35]  Susan E. Riechert and Richard Tracy, “Thermal balance and prey availability: bases for a model relating web-site characteristics to spider reproductive success”, Ecology, 56(2): 265-284. March 1975.
[36]  Colebourn, P.H., “The influence of habitat structure on the distribution of Araneus diaematus Clerk”, Journal of Animal Ecology, 43, 2: 401-409. Jun. 1974.
[37]  Sevacherian, V., D.C. Lowrie, “Preferred temperatures of two species of lycosid spiders, Pardosa sierra and P. ramulosa”, Annals of the entomological society of America, 65, 1: 111-114. Jan. 1972.
[38]  Minch, E.W., “Daily activity patterns of tarantula Aphonopelma Chalcodes. Chamberlin*, Bull. Br. Arachnol. Soc., 4(5): 231-237. 1987.
[39]  Petrunkevitch, A., Sense of sight, courtship, and mating in Dugesiella hentzi (Girard), a theraphosid spider from Texas, Zoologische Jahrbücher (Syst.), 1911, 31: 355-376.
[40]  Cazier, M. A. and Mortenson, M. A., “Bionomical observations on the tarantula hawks and their prey (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae: Pepsis)”, Annals of the Entomological Society of America., 57: 533-541. Sept, 1964
[41]  Main, B.Y., “Adaptations to arid habitats by Mygalomorph spiders,” Evolution of the flora and fauna of Arid Australia, p 273-283, 1982.
[42]  Mahoney DV, Vezie DL, Eby RK, Adams WW, Kaplan D., “Aspects of the morphology of dragline silk of Nephila clavipes,” ACS Symposium series, American Chemical Society, p. 196-210, 1994.
[43]  Sampath S. and Yarger J. L., “Structural hysteresis in dragline spider silks induced by supercontraction: an X-ray fiber micro-diffraction study”, Royal Society of Chemistry Advances, 5: 1462-1474. Jan.2015.
[44]  Cohen, Jason A., and Susan Weiner., “Salticidae Metaphidippus Exiguous”; “Agelenidae Cryphoeca Montana”; and “Mimetidae Mimetus sp.” Electronic Field Guideto Arachnids. Brandeis University. Dec. 2004.
[45]  Jones, Susan C, “Spiders in and Around the House.” The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet - Entomology HYG2060-04: 1-5. 2004.
[46]  Scheibel, T., “Fascinating Spider Silk.” Science Daily, April. 2007.
[47]  Hajer, J, Simona Karschova and Dana Rahakova, “Silk and silk producing organs of Neotropical tarantula Avicularia metallica”, Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae, Ecologica Montenegrina, 7:313-327. Sept. 2016.
[48]  Bush, E.R., Baker, S.E., and MacDonald, D.W., “Global trade in exotic pets 2006-2012”, Conservation Biology, 28: 663-676. June 2014.
[49]  Cardoso, P., Borges, P.A.V., Triantis, K.A., Ferrández, M.A., and Martín, J.L., “Adapting the IUCN Red List criteria for invertebrates”, Biological Conservation, 144: 2432-2440. Aug. 2011.
[50]  Turner, S. P., Longhorn, S. J., Hamilton, C.A., Gabriel, R., & Pérez-Miles, F. and Vogler, A, “Re-evaluating conservation priorities of New World tarantulas (Araneae: Theraphosidae) in a molecular framework indicates non-monophyly of the genera, Aphonopelma and Brachypelma”, Systematics and Biodiversity.16: 1-19. Aug. 2017.
[51]  Chapin, F.S. III, Zavaleta, E.S., Eviner, V.T., Naylor, R.L., Vitousek, P.M., Reynolds, H.L., Hooper, D.U., Lavorel, S., Sala, O.E., Hobbie, S.E., Mack, M.C. and Dı´az, S., “Consequences of changing biodiversity”, Nature, 405:234-242, May, 2000.
[52]  Bigard, C. & Pioch, Sylvian & Thompson, John, “The inclusion of biodiversity in environmental impact assessment: Policy-related progress limited by gaps and semantic confusion”, Journal of Environment Management, 200-35-45. Sept.2017.
[53]  Fahrig Lenore, “Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity”, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 34(1): 487-515. 2003.
[54]  Mckinney, Michael L., “Effects of urbanization on species richness: a review of plants and animals”. Urban Ecosystems, 11(2), 161-167. June 2008.
[55]  Newbold, T., Hudson, L., Hill, S., Contu, S., Lysenko, I., Senior, R., Börger, L., Bennett, D., Choimes, A., Collen, B., Day, J., De Palma, A., Diaz, S., Echeverria-Londono, S., Edgar, M., Feldman, A., Garon, M., Harrison, M., Alhusseini, T. and Purvis, Andy, “Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity”, Nature, 520. 45-50., April 2015.
[56]  Gibson, C.W.D., C. Hambler and V.K. Brown., “Changes in spider (Araneae) assemblages in relation to succession and grazing management,” Journal of Applied Ecology, 29: 132-42. 1992.
[57]  Rypstra, A., P.E. Carter, R.A. Balfour and S.D. Marshall., “Architectural features of agricultural habitats and their impact on the spider inhabitants,” Journal of Arachnology, 27: 371-377, 1999.
[58]  Jeanneret, P., B. Schu¨ pbach and H. Luka., “Quantifying the impact of landscape and habitat features on biodiversity in cultivated landscapes, Agriculture,” Ecosystems &Environment, 98: 311-320. Sept. 2003.
[59]  Haddad, N.M., G.M. Crutsinger, K. Gross, J. Haarstad, J.M.H. Knops and D. Tilman., “Plant species loss decreases arthropod diversity and shifts trophic structure”, Ecology Letters, 12: 1029-1039. Oct. 2009.
[60]  Perner, J. & S. Malt., “Assessment of changing agricultural land use: response of vegetation, ground-dwelling spiders and beetles to the conversion of arable land into grassland”, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 98: 169-181.2003.
[61]  Rix, M. G., Cooper, S. J., Meusemann, K., Klopfstein, S., Harrison, S. E., Harvey, M. S., and Austin, A. D., “Post-Eocene climate change across continental Australia and the diversification of Australasian spiny trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae: Arbanitinae),” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 109, 302-320, Jan 2017.
[62]  Harvey, M. S., “Short-range endemism in the Australian fauna: some examples from non-marine environments”, Invertebrate Systematics, 16, 555-570, Jan 2002.
[63]  Rix, M. G., Edward, D.L., Byrne,M., Harvey, M. S., Joseph,L.,and Roberts,J.D.,“Biogeography and speciation of terrestrial fauna in the southwestern Australian biodiversity hotspot”, Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 90: 762-793. Aug.2014.
[64]  Gerald G. Singh, Jackie Lerner, Megan Mach, Cathryn Clarke Murray, Bernardo Ranieri, Guillaume Peterson St-Laurent, Janson Wong, Alice Guimaraes, Gustavo Yunda-Guarin, Terre Satterfiled and Kai M A Chan, “Scientific shortcomings in environmental impact statements internationally”, People and Nature, 2: 369-379. March 2020.
[65]  Ferretti, Nelson; Pérez-Miles, Fernando; González, Alda, "Historical relationships among Argentinean biogeographic provinces based on mygalomorph spider distribution data (Araneae: Mygalomorphae)". Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment. 49 (1): 2. May 2014.