- On June 20, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it would conduct a 5-year status review of the Spruce-Fir Moss Spider as part of the process mandated by the Endangered Species Act. Although the Spruce-Fir Moss Spider has been listed as endangered since 1994, minimal research has been done on its basic ecology, and there is presently no long-term monitoring plan in place. This inhibits proper management of the species (USFWS 2019).
It is also worth noting that few field surveys have been done on the Spruce-Fir Moss Spider because there are only a handful of people with sufficient experience and skill to find and identify this cryptic species , and because frequent surveys would disturb the spider’s limited and fragile habitat. Furthermore, given the Spruce-Fir Moss Spider’s endangered status, observers must employ non-lethal survey methods. Traditional methods that kill the target species would undermine conservation efforts (Lecq et al. 2015). This further complicates research on the species.
In light of these challenges, as well as limited availability of human and material resources, this plan focuses on occupancy rather than abundance. Compared to abundance studies, occupancy studies tend to be more cost effective and also more appropriate for cryptic species (Dibner et al. 2017).
I hope that the information presented here will contribute in some small way to the development of a long-term monitoring plan for this difficult to monitor, endangered species.