Spiders of the World

An interactive exercise enlisting students

Dr. Rosie Gillespie, one of the JASON VI Expedition Scientists, is interested in adaptive radiation of spiders in Hawai'i. ln particular, she is interested in determining the ancestral species and creating a phylogenetic tree for a genus of spiders, the Tetragnatha. In Hawai'i, Tetragnatha can be found throughout the Islands in most ecological zones except the leeward savanna and alpine zones. Within each zone, smaller "islands" are formed by physical barriers such as cliffs and waterfalls; by soil conditions such as bogs; by volcanic activity, such as lava flows that isolate vegetation areas called kipuka; and by weather conditions such as rain in the rain forests. On the mainland Tetragnatha are normally located near water in meadows and shrub lands. Why do the Tetragnatha and other families of spiders in Hawai'i live in such diverse habitats in comparison to families of spiders on the mainland? This is one of Dr. Gillespie's key questions.

To answer this question, Dr. Gillespie requests the assistance of students. She would like students to determine the kind and number of families of spiders in their area. The basic exercise is described in the JASON VI: Island Earth Hawai`i Expedition Curriculum, in Unit One, Lesson 1.5, Evaluative Exercise. By submitting their spider data online as described below, students can further aid Dr. Gillespie by sharing their data with her and with other students and teachers worldwide.

Even if you are not using the JASON Curriculum, you are invited to take part in the online version of this exercise presented here. Please read through the information below, and send us information about the spiders in your area.

By clicking on this icon whenever you see it, you can listen to Dr. Rosie Gillespie describe her work and the background you need to conduct this exercise.

How to Participate in This Exercise:

Presentation of Students' Findings:

Exercise Wrap-up:


JASON Project Logo

JASON Project homepage || Teachers' Guide || Students' Corner || Search

Gene Carl Feldman (gene@seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov) (301) 286-9428
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (todd@jason.org)