Paradamoetas fontana (Levi, 1951)
A Jumping Spider
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Basis for Listing
Paradamoetas fontana has a restricted range in the Great Lakes area of the United States and Canada. It occurs in Minnesota at the western periphery of its range, where it has been documented from less than 10 sites. This species preferred habitat is vulnerable to human disturbance, particularly drainage. Paradamoetas fontana was listed as a special concern species in Minnesota in 1996. Special concern spider species are those known from three or more sites in Minnesota, but with significant range restrictions or particular habitat associations that make their populations appear vulnerable from a conservation standpoint.
Jumping spiders are one of the most recognizable spiders, as they generally have a stout body, rather short legs, a very large set of eyes, and the ability to jump. They also walk with an irregular gait. Their body shapes and colors often imitate prey such as ants and beetles. Paradamoetas fontana is iridescent and ant-like in appearance. Culter (1982) gives taxonomic details for this species.
Biology / Life History
Jumping spiders do not spin webs for catching prey. Instead, they construct small tent-like silken retreats under rocks or logs, or on plants, which they use at night and during hibernation. The females will also lay their eggs in them. Jumping spiders are most active during the day, and they prefer sunshine. They tend to stay in their retreats on cloudy or rainy days. Jumping spiders are generally interested in whatever approaches them, and will often turn and face human observers, and may even advance towards them. They are generally harmless to people.
Conservation / Management
Paradamoetas fontana is a Great Lakes region endemic (Cutler 1981; Wolff 1984), and is best known from Minnesota, suggesting that the Minnesota populations could play a significant role in conserving this species (see also Richman and Cutler 1977). The best time to search for this species is from June through September. Although remnants of natural areas may often be too small or isolated for some rare vertebrates, they may be suitable for maintaining invertebrates. Each new locality for a species adds to the suite of management options for their conservation and may even guide new land designations or acquisitions. Benign to humans, diverse, colorful, and behaviorally complex, jumping spiders may be good ambassadors for their kin and invertebrates in general.
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
Several known Minnesota localities of P. fontana are protected including the Cedar Creek Natural History Area and Helen Allison Savanna Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) in Anoka County, and the Roscoe Prairie SNA in Stearns County. Because similar habitats have been sampled elsewhere in the state without success, P. fontana appears to be uncommon in Minnesota. It is possible that future sampling with waders or from boats may produce additional records, and any new records will be of interest.