It’s the Spiders, Stupid!
Recently I have been publicly presenting a talk regarding the impacts of climate change on nature and humans titled: Climate Change is Not Being Nice to Mother Nature. In this talk I describe the impact of climate change on oceans, Arctic mammals, birds, fish, frogs, trees, lakes and ponds, and humans. Human impacts include, among others, sea level rise, stronger hurricanes, extreme heat, increased risks to health, higher costs for recreational activities, and serious geopolitical implications including war.
However, the slides that get the most reaction are those about the northward expansion of the Brown Recluse spider.
Many brown spiders are often mistaken as the Brown Recluse. The tell-tale signature of this spider is the violin-shaped marker on its thorax.
Brown Recluse spiders are notorious for their necrotic bites.
In a recent study by Saupe, et al. (2011) titled: Tracking a Medically Important Spider: Climate Change, Ecological Niche Modeling, and the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), the authors model the future habitats of the Brown Recluse in a warmer world. By 2080, perhaps only 5% of the spider’s current range — which extends from Kansas across to Kentucky and from Texas across to Georgia — would remain suitable for the Brown Recluse spider. Climate change could make portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Nebraska and South Dakota habitable to the spiders in the future.
H/T to Peter Sinclair for pointing me to this study.