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Jumping spider diversity in Mexico

Uriel Garcilazo Cruz, a UBC MSc student, describes his research on jumping spiders while doing fieldwork in Mexico.

Hello! My name is Uriel Garcilazo and I volunteer at the Beaty Museum. Right now we are in Mexico in the state of Veracruz at 4,000 meters in elevation looking for new species of jumping spiders. My research is focused on describing the diversity of more than 75 species of jumping spiders of the genus Mexicanus. This research is focused as well on some DNA extractions that can help us understand the evolutionary history of the group. These animals are important as well as really pretty and diverse in terms of colours and shapes, because some of the males have developed a red face, that the females can see during courtship. This is really rare in spiders and also very rare in invertebrates and can help us or give us a clue on how evolution happens in the development of the ability to see this colour.

What is your favourite research memory?

My favourite memory came this summer, when we were having a partnership with a couple of guys from an Indigenous group in San Andrés Chicahuaxtla in the state of Oaxaca. We had one male and one female of a very rare red-faced species of jumping spider, and I remember just going there and hitting, beating the bush all together, speaking the native language, which is tricky, from the Mixtec and finding the spider. I just jumped in excitement and it was an amazing. It was a fantastic memory.

What is your favourite organism?

My favourite animal right now is the genus Mexicanus. I have fallen in love with these animals because of all their diversity in colours and shapes. They can also be found in very particular habitats which is amazing because it tells us how specialized they are into their environments.

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