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Spider Experts to Assemble on Campus

University of California, Riverside to Host Spider Experts

(June 13, 2002)

Riverside will be crawling with the nation's top spider-men and spider-women during this year's national meeting of the American Arachnological Society, scheduled for June 25th through June 29th at the University Theater on the University of California, Riverside campus. Rick Vetter, staff research associate in the department of entomology at UCR, will host the event. The meeting is expected to attract approximately 125 arachnologists (persons who study spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids).

"We are excited about hosting the meeting," said Vetter. "The arachnology meetings, held annually, are always fun and supportive. Because most arachnologists work alone most of the year, this is an occasion for them to get together, speak the same language, and present their research to their peers."

Papers will be presented at the meeting from June 26th through June 28th. Abstracts of the papers can be found at:

The talks will address the medical aspects of spiders and spider bites. Talks have also been lined up that will be of scientific interest in ecology, evolution and taxonomy. In taxonomy, there will be at least one talk on a new genus or two of California spiders; Vetter has collected a spider of a new genus. "It is not uncommon to find a new species, but to find a new genus is much more exciting," he said.

A symposium on "Arachnids of Medical Importance" has also been planned for the 26th of June. The speakers include two medical university physicians, a dermatologist and several arachnologists who specialize on medically important spiders. "The speakers will address envenomation symptoms and treatment, misdiagnoses, overdiagnoses, misidentification of specimens, evolution of venoms, geographical distribution and a community project which involves public perception/misconception and public health issues," Vetter said.

Vetter mentioned that a few spiders will be on display on Wednesday afternoon, mostly very unique spiders from Southern California (e.g., two-eyed spiders found only in the southwestern deserts) and some 1 to 2 mm-long spiders that people rarely see because these spiders live in leaf duff.

The meeting is not all work and no play. A welcoming social, a barbeque, and a banquet will offer participants the opportunity to socialize with one another. Attendees at the meeting can also take advantage of two contemporaneous field trips that have been scheduled for Saturday, June 29th.

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