Arachnids offer a unique perspective for biodiversity surveys. They do so for
several reasons: arachnids are one of the five largest taxa in the arthropods
and their diversity is a magnitude greater than that of larger sized animals.
They tend to have narrower distributions than vertebrates, allowing a more
fine-grained sampling of geography. They show higher rates of endemism than
other taxa at a given site. In most cases they are easily inventoried and
identified provided the tools are available. Their basic systematics are
reasonably well known and a global catalogue summarizing the knowledge of the
largest order in this animal group is available on line (Platnick 2003).
Most African countries have hardly started or are still in the process of
compiling baseline information on arachnids in the form of national checklists.
The absence of species lists is a serious obstacle when it comes to conservation
and sustainable use. With AFRAD we hope to provide a stimulus to increase
Arachnida research in Africa. Although the project is still in its initial
phase, several studies have been completed or are in progress since it was
launched. All these data would be made available on-line.
Co-ordinators :A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: email@example.comR. Jocqué, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org