Brown recluse spider habitat to expand with climate change

Mar 29, 2011 By Jen Humphrey

One of the most feared spiders in North America is the subject a new University of Kansas study that aims to predict its distribution and how that distribution will be affected by climate changes.

When provoked, the spider, commonly known as the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), injects powerful that can kill the tissues at the site of the bite. This can lead to a painful deep sore and occasional scarring.

But the wounds are not always easy to diagnose. Medical practitioners can confuse the bite with other serious conditions, including and various cancers. The distribution of the spider is poorly understood as well, and medical professionals routinely diagnose brown recluse bites outside of the areas where it is known to exist.

By better characterizing its distribution, and by examining potential new areas of distribution with future climate change scenarios, the medical community and the public can be more informed about this species, said study author Erin Saupe, a graduate student in geology and a Biodiversity Institute student.

To address the issue of brown recluse distribution, Saupe and other researchers used a predictive mapping technique called ecological niche modeling. They applied future climate change scenarios to the spider’s known distribution in the Midwest and southern United States. The researchers concluded that the range may expand northward, potentially invading previously unaffected regions. Newly influenced areas may include parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“These results illustrate a potential negative consequence of on humans and will aid medical professionals in proper bite identification and treatment, potentially reducing bite misdiagnoses,” Saupe said.

The paper was published in the March 25 edition of the journal PLoS ONE.

Explore further: Decrease of genetic diversity in the endangered Saimaa ringed seal continues

Provided by University of Kansas

3 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evolution mystery: Spider venom and bacteria share same toxin

Feb 01, 2006

It's a case of evolutionary detective work. Biology researchers at Lewis & Clark College and the University of Arizona have found evidence for an ancient transfer of a toxin between ancestors of two very dissimilar organisms--spiders ...

Nationwide spread of Lyme disease is focus of new study

Sep 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Lyme disease has become a major public health issue in the northeastern United States since it was first identified in Connecticut in the 1970s. But the scientific community is uncertain as to why the risk ...

A changing climate for protected areas

Apr 02, 2007

On April 6, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release a report entitled Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability that focuses on how climate change is affecting the planet.

Finding the missing pieces

Mar 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Missing pieces in the biodiversity puzzle make it impossible to accurately predict the effects of climate change on most plant species in the Amazon and other tropical areas, according to ...

Recommended for you

How can we help endangered vultures?

54 minutes ago

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical ...

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

1 hour ago

Amargosa voles, small rodents that inhabit rare marshes of the Mojave Desert, have faced dire circumstances in recent years. Loss of habitat, extreme drought and climate change brought this subspecies of ...

Sex-loving, meat-eating reptiles have shorter lives

3 hours ago

The health risks and benefits of vegetarianism have long been discussed in relation to the human diet, but newly published research reveals that it's definitely of benefit to the reptile population. That, ...

US charges safari owners with illegal rhino hunts

15 hours ago

Two South African men were charged Thursday by the US government with conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts to American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

orsr
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
Wouldn´t like to get bitten by one of these little fellas.