Spiders remain under-represented across the world’s endangered-species conservation plans. karthik photography / Getty Images By John R. Platt Spiders need our help, and we may need to overcome our biases and fears to make that happen. "The feeling that people have towards spiders is not unique," says Marco Isaia , an arachnologist and associate professor at the University of Turin in Italy. "Nightmares, anxieties and fears are very frequent reactions in ‘normal’ people," he concedes. Perhaps that’s why spiders remain under-represented across the world’s endangered-species conservation plans. Average people don’t think much about them, relatively few scientists study them, and conservation groups and governments don’t act enough to protect them. That’s a major gap in species-protection efforts — one that has wide repercussions. "Efforts in conservation of spiders are particularly meaningful for nature conservation," Isaia points out. Spiders, he says, have enormous ecological value as food for birds and other animals. They’re also important to people, both as predators of pest species and as inspiration for medicines and engineering. And yet they remain neglected. How bad is the problem? A new paper by Isaia and 18 other experts digs into the conservation status of Europe’s 4,154 known spider species […]

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