4.1.1 Infrastructure facilities for teaching & learning
The Division of Arachnology was established in the year 1998 with the objective of conducting authentic studies on spiders of South India, especially in the state of Kerala. The division functions under the Department of Zoology of Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Cochin, Kerala, India. This is the only research centre in South India engaged in Arachnology research. Two scientists and 8 full-time research scholars are conducting the studies.
Dr. P. A. Sebastian
Dr. M. J. Mathew
Fr. M. J. Jobi
Pradeep M. S
Elizabeth V. Mathew
Aneesh Mahew Vergis
The following are the thrust areas of research:
• Diversity of spider fauna in Kerala State, India.
• Spiders as biocontrol agents
• Study of the feeding potential of spiders of paddy and vegetable agro-ecosystems and the effect of
insecticides on spiders as part of integrated pest management.
• Behavioural study of jumping spiders of Kerala
• Maintenance of reference collection of Kerala spiders.
The Division conducts routine faunal explorations in different parts of Kerala state namely Agasthyamala, Thenmala, Vagamon, Thattekkad, Parambikulam, Wynad, Kuttanad, Munnar, Mannavan Shola and the entire Ernakulam district. The division has so for identified more than 300 spiders from Kerala including 40 new species to science and 30 first reports. Araneus himalayensis, a rare spider reported only in the Himalayas has been collected from Mannavan Shola, near Marayur. A recent exploration to Vagamon grasslands and nearby shola forests yielded a collection of 44 species of spiders.
The division is also actively engaged in the research of Indian Tarantulas (Tiger Spiders). Out of the four species of tiger spiders reported from India (Poecilotheria striata, P. rufilata, P. regalis and P. kirki.), P. striata and P. regalis were collected from Parambikulam Wild Life Sanctuary and Ernakulam, respectively. This is the first documentation of these spiders from Kerala since they were first reported in 1870’s by the British biologists. Similarly Haploclastus kayi has been collected from Parambikulam and Thenmala forests.
Our scholars have over and over been honored with international fellowships and grants.
Dr. Mathew M.J. was awarded the prestigious Endeavour Award of the Commonwealth of Australia and had successfully completed a postdoctoral programme in spider taxonomy and phylogeny in Australia as part of the award. His postdoctoral research was hosted jointly by the University of Western Australia and Western Australian Museum in Perth, Australia.
International Foundation of Science
Dr. Mathew M.J. was awarded a research grant from International Foundation for Science, Stockholm, Sweden for a research project on spiders in Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve. The research programme was successfully completed in August 2010.
EOL Rubenstein Fellowship 2010
Dr. Sudhikumar A. V. was awarded the much prestigious Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) Rubenstein Fellowship in 2010. The EOL Rubenstein Fellows program supports the research of a diverse group of scientists who are committed to online collaboration and outreach. It is done in collaboration with Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington D C. Dr. Sudhikumar is the first Indian to be chosen for this award. Proposal to create EOL species pages of Spiders of Western Ghats with taxonomic information, detailed description, range maps, type specimen information, and high quality images won him this meritorious fellowship.
Ghent University Fellowship
Dr. Sudhikumar A. V. was awarded doctoral fellowship by the Ghent University, Belgium in 2006 to conduct study on Phylogeography of the spider genus Hippasa.
- Sebastian, P.A., Samson Davis and B.H. Patel, The phenology and predatory behavior of Pardosa birmanica Simon (Araneae: Lycosidae) on insect pests of cotton. Entomon. 2001. 26(3&4):317-321.
- Sebastian, P.A., Sudhikumar, A.V. Samson Davis, Sunil Jose, K. (2002). Observation on the biology of Cheiracanthium melanostoma (Thorell) (Araneae: Clubionidae) occurring on cotton. Entomon 27(2): 225-229.
- Sebastian, P.A. A qualitative study on the biodiversity of spiders in Kerala. 2003. Proceedings of the Nat. seminar on biodiversity conservation and participatory forest management.
- Sunil Jose K and P. A. Sebastian (2001). New report on some crab spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae) from Kerala, India. Entomon 26(2): 183-189.
- Sunil Jose K and P. A. Sebastian (2001) Occurrence of Psechrus alticeps Pocock (Araneae: Psecheridae) in Western Ghats, Kerala with a redescription and notes on its habit and habitat. J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc. 98(2): 304-306.
- Sunil Jose K, Sudhikumar A.V., Samson Davis, P. A. Sebastian (2000). Description of female Amycieae forticeps (Cambridge) with a redescription of its male from Kerala, India (Araneae: Thomisidae) J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc. 100 (1) : 157-160
- Sunil Jose K, Sudhikumar A.V., Samson Davis, P. A. Sebastian (2002). Predatory spiders of the family Argiopidae from Kerala (Araneae: Argiopidae). J. Biol. Control. 16(1): 87-88.
- Sudhikumar.A.V and P.A.Sebastian (2001) studies on the spider fauna in rice field of Kuttanad in Kerala. Proc. Symp. Bioc. Based Pest Management for Quality Crop Protection in the Current Millennium. 31-32.
- Sudhikumar.A.V and P.A.Sebastian (2002) Studies on the population fluctuation of spiders in Kuttanad rice agroecosystems. Proc. 14th Kerala Science Congress.660-661.
- Bijukumar, A.V. and P.A. Sebastian (2002) Threads of life. Science Reporter 39 (9): 52-55 & 60-62
Papers accepted for publication:
- Sebastian, P.A., Sudhikumar.A.V. and Samson Davis (2002) Reproductive behaviour and biology of Oxyopes chittrae occurring on cotton. Zoosprint
- Sebastian, P.A. , and Sudhikumar.A.V (2002) Feeding potential of spiders (Order: Araneae) on Aphis craccivora Koch occurring on cotton. Entomon.
- Sunil Jose. K, Samson Davis, Sudhikumar A.V., P. A. Sebastian (2001). Redescription of Tetragnatha viridorufa Gravely from Kerala, India (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc.
Papers communicated for publication:
- Sebastian, P.A. and Sudhikumar, A.V. (2003) Biocontrol potential of Oxyopes chittrae Tikader (Araneae: Oxyopidae) on three leptidopteran pests of cotton. J. Biol. Control
- Sunil Jose K, Sudhikumar A.V., Samson Davis, P. A. Sebastian (2001). Preliminary studies on the spider fauna (Arachnida: Araneae) in Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary in Western Ghats, Kerala, India. J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc.
- Sunil Jose. K, Sudhikumar A.V., P. A. Sebastian (2002) First record of Perenethis unifasciata (Doleschall) from India (Araneae: Pisauridae) J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc.
- Sudhikumar A.V., P. A. Sebastian, Samson Davis, Sunil Jose. K (2002). Argyrodes flagellum (Theridiidae: Areneae), A Rare comb-footed whip spider: First report from India. Entomon
- Sudhikumar.A.V and P.A.Sebastian (2003) First Report of the Genus Dipoena (Araneae: Theridiidae) from India with Description of the Female of Dipoena ruedai. Entomon.
- Sudhikumar, A.V., Mathew, M.J. and P.A. Sebastian (2003) Synanthropic Spiders of Kerala. Current Science.
- Sudhikumar.A. V and P.A. Sebastian (2003) Vertical Distribution Of Spiders In Rice Agro Ecosystem. IRRN.
- Samson Davis; Sudhikumar A. V; Sunil Jose. K and P. A. Sebastian. (2002). New record of the salticid spider Thiania bhamoensis THORELL (Araneae: Salticidae) from Kerala, India with observations on its field characters. J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc.
- Sebastian P.A. (1998). Chapter on Nutrition in Animal Physiology published by Zoological Society of Kerala.