The arachnology collection was established in 1999. It has grown from zero vials to over 40,000 identified and databased vials with another 20,000 vials in the backlog. The data is accessible to the world via the SCAN Symbiota data portal as well as via GBIF. Although worldwide in distribution, the collection’s strength is in spiders and other arachnids found in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains ecoregion. It also holds one of the most important collections of camel spiders (order Solifugae) found in North American arthropod collections.
Research in the arachnology lab focuses on the biodiversity of arachnids in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains region and on the natural history, phylogeny, taxonomy, and behavior of arachnids in the order Solifugae (commonly known as “camel spiders”). Paula Cushing, PhD, her colleagues, and students also do research on the phylogeography of scorpions. The lab supports research and work of students and volunteers. Dr. Cushing is an adjunct professor at various local universities and can mentor graduate students interested in ongoing research projects.