Brazil 2003
In December 2003 I was invited to give two talks at the meeting of the Latin American arachnologists in São Paulo. After that, I had the chance to visit some Atlantic rainforest sites in São Paulo State: Ubatuba, Paranapiacaba, Cantareira, and the forest at the Jardim Zoologico. We had no particular species in mind we wanted to find, but tried to collect any pholcids we could, especially into pure ethanol for an ongoing molecular study.

This image shows a female deinopid, holding her modified orb web with her front legs. For me as a European it was special to see this wonderful spider alive in its habitat. I found it in São Paulo, in the forest that partly surrounds the city zoo. Our attention, however, was mostly focused on pholcids, and in one particular site, in a rainforest near Ubatuba, we found 13 species, more than had even been found before at a single locality. This broke our own record from the year before, when we collected 12 species in Yacambu National Park, Venezuela.

I also had the opportunity to spend a few days looking at the spider collection in Butantan, São Paulo. I knew that there are numerous species undescribed in South America, but what I saw in Butantan was quite unbelievable. Recent intense collecting efforts have resulted in so many undescribed species that I was left wondering who should ever make these known to science. 

I am most grateful to the organizers of the arachnological meeting for their invitation and for financing my visit to Brazil. In particular, I am indebted to Cristina Rheims for arranging the rainforest trips, to Antonio Brescovit for his invitation to study the Butantan collection, and to my brother-in-law for assistance in the field.

Three publications have resulted entirely from this trip (Huber, Rheims & Brescovit 2005a, 2005b, Huber, Brescovit & Rheims 2005), others have partly profited from it or are in preparation.