Gabon 2007

One of the surprises from our early molecular work on salticids was the discovery of some major clades that were largely geographically restricted. Thus, the Amycoida were a huge neotropical radiation almost entirely restricted to the Americas, while the Astioida were concentrated in Australasia. Each major tropical region seemed to have its own special group, which meant that the as-yet-unsampled African tropics might hold a new and special clade of salticids. Sorting out these biogeographical patterns was the work of Melissa Bodner. Our 2007 expedition to Gabon revealed that indeed the Afrotropics are dominated by a clade endemic there, the thiratoscirtines. The paper analyzing our results is here [pdf]

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The field team: Melissa Bodner, Wayne Maddison, Ghislain Ella, Domir De Bakker, at Tchimbélé

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The Crystal Mountains at Tchimbélé

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Melissa hoped very much to see an elephant. She didn’t see one, but often we found their droppings, sometimes still warm.

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Elephants often left their footprints for us to step in. This was helpful sometimes, and they provided steps up muddy slopes.

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A recurrent theme in tropical field work: mud and vehicles.

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Despite little infrastructure otherwise, cell phone advertisements were ubiquitous

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A wondrous forest at Waka


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