Arachnology is the scientific study of spiders and related specimens: including scorpions, pseudo-scorpions and harvestmen. These animals are collectively known as arachnids. Ticks and mites, on the other hand, although are in the arachnid family, do not typically fall under archeology studies; these small creatures are usually studied under Acarology.
Arachnology derives from the Greek words arachne (meaning spider), and logia (meaning sayings).
People who study spiders and other arachnids are known as arachnologists. Arachnologists classify and study the aspects of arachnid biology. Arachnologists are sometimes referred to as ‘spider experts.’
Disciplines of arachnology include naming species (taxonomy), determining their evolutionary relationships to one another (systematic), studying how they interact with other members of their species and environment (behavioral ecology), and how they are distributed throughout different regions and habitats (faunistics).
Some arachnologists also carry out research into the anatomy or physiology of arachnids, including the venom of spiders and scorpions. Others study the impact of spiders in agricultural ecosystems and whether they can be used as biological control agents.
There are several scientific societies throughout the world that are meant to encourage the exchange of ideas between arachnologists, as well as to organize meetings and congresses, and publish scientific research in journals and other periodicals. The most notable of these societies are:
There are also a number of scientific journals devoted to the study of arachnids and arachnology. These include:
Arachnology started to gain popularity in the 1970s when arachnids–particularly tarantulas–became more and more popular as exotic pets. As a result, a number of societies popped up focusing on the husbandry, care, and study of tarantulas in captive breeding programs, as well as other arachnids. The two most popular of these societies are the American Tarantula Society and the British Tarantula Society.
Image Caption: Nephila clavipes female. Credit: Victor Patel/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)