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Welcome to the web site dedicated to the fen raft spider
This site has been established to promote the understanding and conservation of one of Europe's largest, most beautiful but least common species of spider, Dolomedes plantarius. We hope that it will serve as an international forum for promoting the exchange, collation and dissemination of knowledge about the biology, status and practical conservation of this species. The site also includes increasing amounts of information about Europe's other raft spider species, Dolomedes fimbriatus.
The site is run as part of the current UK conservation and research programme for D. plantarius. This includes monitoring, conservation management and translocation programmes led by Natural England (formerly English Nature) in collaboration with the Suffolk and Sussex Wildlife Trusts, the Broads Authority, the RSPB and BIAZA. It also includes research into the autecology, molecular ecology and evolution of this species, carried out at the University of Nottingham. The BBC Wildlife Fund provided invaluable funding for research and survey in East Anglia in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Apart from providing information on the biology, distribution, classification and identification of D.plantarius, this site presents an opportunity for others to contribute to efforts to conserve this species.
We are very grateful to all of the photographers who have allowed the use their images on this site. Please contact us to enquire about use of any of the images.
Two new videos give a window onto the amazing lives of fen raft spiders - Watch them here.....
This summer James Dunbar, a student on the Salford University MA course in Wildlife Documentary Production, worked with Helen Smith to produce a unique insight into the normally secret lives of fen raft spiders during their breeding season at Redgrave & Lopham Fen. Click here to watch James' film - NB University of Salford 2012 all rights reserved.
In Sweden, Stefan Sollfors made a beautiful film of fen raft spiders in the wild, including shots of them hunting under water water. Click here to watch his video on YouTube.
Successful breeding confirmed in new fen raft spider population in Suffolk
Successful breeding was confirmed in the first new population to be established by translocation in the first week of July 2012 when the first nursery webs were produced by fen raft spiders introduced to grazing marshes on the lower Waveney in Suffolk. By the end of the summer over 40 nursery webs had been recorded at this site. The spiders used to establish the population came from both of the two remaining English populations of this species and were introduced as tiny 3-month old spiderlings in autumn 2010. This success is a milestone in the translocation project and an important first indication that the spiders will thrive in their new home. It is highly likely that the spiders formerly occurred in Broadland - the new site is 50km downstream from the small and isolated natural population at Redgrave and Lopham Fen NNR. The translocation programme aims to reduce the vulnerability of this species in the UK by increasing the number of populations. It is currently known from only three sites. Find out more about the translocation programme and read press coverage of this important event.