Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The black spider of Los Alcornocales

JIMENA/SAN PABLO In Andalucia there lives a largeish black burrowing spider that belongs to the venomous funnel-web tarantula family. Its scientific name is Macrothele calpeiana and it belongs to the Hexathelidae group which is normally associated with Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Central Africa and South America. But this one lives in the Mediterranean region.  The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek 'makro' meaning large and 'thele', which refers to the spinnerets. The origin of the name calpeiana is from 'Calpe', a name the Phoenicians gave to Gibraltar. It is known in Spanish as La araña negra de los alcornocales because  the largest populations can be found within Los Alcornocales Nature Park. Why do we mention it?>
The Macrothele calpeiana was the subject of the first lecture of several programmed for the VI Jornadas de Interpretación del Río Guadiaro that took place over last weekend and which we announced here.

These jornadas, loosely translated as 'workshops', have become an annual event in San Pablo de Buceite, a part of the municipality of Jimena de la Frontera. They concentrate on the Guadiaro River and its surroundings. The river runs from the foothills of Ronda to the Mediterranean at Sotogrande (a luxury resort surrounded by villages with names like San Enrique de Guadiaro, Guadiaro, Pueblo Nuevo de Guadiaro, etc.) but these workshops concentrate on the upper reaches of the river, particularly as it influences San Pablo itself.

A series of lectures and field trips are planned each year, although this time a field trip to the El Corchado area had to be cancelled because it was practically under water after heavy storms.

If the first of the lectures, by biologist Alberto Jiménez, was interesting, no less so was the second offered by fellow biologist David Romero, who spoke about the need for conserving and safeguarding the species of turtles that are native to the river.

Other activities included an exhibition of photographs that had entered the annual nature photography competition that is part of the workshops, a showing of the film El día de mañana, which deals with the conservation of the environment.

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