Spruce-fir moss spider
Description: The spruce-fir moss spider is one of the smallest members of the primitive suborder of spiders popularly referred to as “tarantulas.” Adults of this species measure only 0.10 to 0.15 inch (about the size of a BB). Coloration of the spruce-fir moss spider ranges from light brown to yellow-brown to a darker reddish brown, and there are no markings on its abdomen.
Habitat: The spruce-fir moss spider only lives on the highest mountain peaks in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southwest Virginia. The high elevation forests where this spider is found are dominated by Fraser fir with scattered red spruce. This forest type is commonly referred to as spruce-fir forests. The typical habitat of this spider is damp, but well-drained moss mats growing on rocks and boulders in well-shaded areas within these forests. The moss mats cannot be too dry (the species is very sensitive to desiccation).
Range: The spruce-fir moss spider is limited to a handful of mountains in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southwest Virginia
Listing: Endangered, February 6, 1995. 60 FR 6968 6974
Critical Habitat: Designated, July 6, 2001. 66 FR 35547 35566
Threats: The surviving populations of the spruce-fir moss spider are restricted to small areas of suitable moss mats on a few scattered rock outcrops and boulders beneath fir trees in the spruce-fir forests. Destruction of the moss mats (or even a portion of the mats) or damage to the surrounding vegetation shading the mats could result in the loss of the entire population or even extinction of this species.
Furthermore, during the past century, most of the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest has suffered extensive changes and declines in size and/or vigor because of past logging and burning practices, storm damage, air pollution, climate changes, disease, insect damage, and exposure shock.
All living things are part of a complex and interconnected network. We depend on the diversity of plant and animal life for our recreation, nourishment, many of our lifesaving medicines, and the ecological functions they provide. One-quarter of all the prescriptions written in the United States today contain chemicals that were originally discovered in plants and animals. Industry and agriculture are increasingly making use of wild plants, seeking out the remaining wild strain of many common crops, such as wheat and corn, to produce new hybrids that are more resistant to disease, pests, and marginal climatic conditions. Our food crops depend on insects and other animals for pollination.
Species Contact:Susan Cameron
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 224
fax - 828/258-5330
160 Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28801