AAS Australasian Arachnological Society

Identification of Spiders (Araneae)

The identification of spiders in the Australasian region can be a daunting experience. Recent estimates suggest up to 20,000 spider species in Australia alone, of which only around 4,000 are currently named. A large number of species descriptions date back to the 19th century. Accurate species level identification is often only possible by examining original type material.

The World Spider Catalogue is free to join and gives access to literature in which names appear. For each currently recognized spider species therer is a list of references in which these species were described and illustrated. A list of Australian spider species compiled by Volker Framenau can be found here. Several key references allow the scientific identification of spiders to family or subfamily level in Australia and New Zealand include:

A field guide to Spiders of Australia CSIRO Publishing 2017, by Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson, is the most comprehensive account of Australian spiders ever published, 468 pages, 1350 images, 78 families, 381 genera and 836 species. Copies signed by both authors are available for $50 each (including postage).
This guide to the subject, authored by Volker W Framenau, Barbara C Baehr and Paul Zborowski, offers a window into a fascinating world. Notorious species such as the Redback and the Sydney Funnel-web sit alongside less well known but equally intriguing spiders such as the ant-mimics and net-casting spiders. The introduction covers spider structure, evolution, reproduction, silk and venom.
Coverpage Australian Spiders
Val Davies’ (1986) ‘Australian Spiders. Collection, Perservation and Identification. (Queensland Museum Booklet No. 14) provides family level identification of spiders in Australia. Nearly 20 years after it was published, the arrangement of some spider families has changed, but this guide remains a valuable tool for higher level identification of spiders.
Coverpage Spiders of Australia
Raven, Baehr & Harvey’s (2002) ‘Spiders of Australia. Interactive Identification to Subfamily Level (ABRS Identification Series, CSIRO Publishing) is a resource to identify spiders to subfamily level in Australia. Needs Windows XP or earlier.
Coverpage Spiders of New Zealand
Paquin, Dupérré & Vink’s (2010) ‘Spiders of New Zealand: Annotated Family Key & Species List‘ (Manaaki Whenua Press) is an identification manual for the spider families of New Zealand. It features more than 500 illustrations, a key to spider families, notes on spider anatomy, some tips for specimen examination and a comprehensive bibliography.


Detailed information for some families include:

reference: AAS – Australasian Arachnological Society
online: http://www.australasian-arachnology.org/identification/id-araneae/
©2005 AAS – date: 2018/08/31

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