The Fen Raft Spider is one of the UK’s largest and rarest spiders. Owing to intense conservation efforts, this fascinating species has recovered from the brink of extinction, but the same pressures still threaten the remaining isolated populations. Helen Smith describes the Fen Raft Spider’s complex ecology and life history, and the measures taken to secure the establishment of new populations.
Few invertebrates beyond those admired for being beautifully winged or overtly ‘useful’, or reviled for stinging, biting or being ‘creepy’, attract much public attention. Spiders fall predominantly into the latter category, despite their wonderful diversity, their critical role in ecosystems and the remarkable resources they provide for medical and material science.