Avicularia hirschii found in a special retreat!

Avicularia hirschii - juvenile tarantula

Avicularia hirschii Bullmer, Thierer-Lutz & Schmidt, 2006 is a member of the Aviculariinae subfamily from the genus Avicularia and currently only known from the country of Ecuador. Not much is known regarding their natural history and lifestyle since this tarantula appears to be extremely elusive.

adult male of A. hirschii

During our field trip to Ecuador in 2018, we managed to find two specimens of Avicularia hirschii in two separate locations. The first encounter with Avicularia hirschii was an adult male walking around on a tree around 2 meters above the ground, at night time. In the very same habitat, we found juvenile specimens of Avicularia purpurea, or a yet very close but undescribed species of Avicularia. Without the possibility to collect material, a clear identification is always very difficult. Avicularia hirschii has a unique coloration among all other members of the genus Avicularia, especially in young age as spiderlings they are easily distinguishable by their white opisthosoma covered with the typical black stripe.

juvenile specimen of A. hirschii

As this adult male Avicularia hirschii shows us, is that the pattern of the strip on the opisthosoma can be in a zigg-zack like manner. This is very unusual, since the description of Avicularia hirschii does not mention such a pattern. 

Avicularia lynnae is a newly described tarantula species closely related to Avicularia hirschii, found in southern Ecuador and Peru. The species is only known from an adult male specimen, the lacking part of A. hirschii which is only known from female specimens. The future will show if these are indeed two separate species of closely related species or in fact one species with a big distribution range.

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retreat of A. hirschii

The habitat we discovered these specimens of A. hirschii in were around the city of Tena, Ecuador. The annual rainfall of 3832 mm and 22.1 °C in temperature. – which does not reflect the exact values this species is living in. A. hirschii is to be believed very opportunistic and still quite niche compared to other members of the genus Avicularia present in the same area, such as A. rufa and A. purpurea.

Habitat of Avicularia hirschii in lowland rainforest of Ecuador

 

Additional literature to read on:

Fukushima CS, Bertani R (2017) Taxonomic revision and cladistic analysis of Avicularia Lamarck, 1818 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Aviculariinae) with description of three new aviculariine genera. ZooKeys 659: 1-185. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.659.10717

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