The diversity, distribution and feeding behavior of solifuges (arachnida; solifugae) in Kenya.
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Little is known of the diversity of solifuges in East Africa or their habitat preferences and feeding biologies. A survey was undertaken to improve our understanding of the diversity and distribution of solifuges in Kenya and these data were supplemented by the solifuge holdings of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), which were identified as part of this study. Historical records of each species found during this survey were verified through assessment of the primary literature and distributions were mapped for all Kenyan spp. A feeding study was conducted to determine preference between hard and toxic prey, and owl pellets from Tucson, Arizona were dissected to determine the importance of solifuges as prey. Finally, various outreach activities that were led and organized during this study were discussed, detailing the importance of science outreach as the bridge between research and the general public. All solifuges used in the feeding study ate the termites that were used as a behavioral control, but only three individuals of one species of solifuge, Z. fordi, were able to eat both hard and toxic prey items repeatedly. Solifuges were more willing or able to eat toxic prey than hard. Burrowing owl pellets from Tucson, Arizona were examined for invertebrate parts and preference was assessed for the five most commonly eaten arthropods. Solifuges were the third most frequently encountered arthropod in the pellets, after caterpillars and beetles, and were also the third most abundant. Solifuges were sampled over a period of six months and collected from 28.V.2006-8.VI.2006 and 11.II.2007- 13.V.2007 from eight different localities in Kenya. During this survey two genera were newly recorded for Kenya, Tarabulida and Solpugyla. In addition, the Tarabulida specimen is the first male ever recorded for the genus. Three new species records for Kenya were added: Z. sericea, Z. lobatula and Z. meruensis, and six undescribed species were recorded from Kenya as a result of this survey, including five unidentified rhagodids and species of Tarabulida. The southernmost locality record for the Galeodidae and Galeodes arabs arabs was uncovered in the NMK holdings.
Reddick, Kristie Lynn (2008). The diversity, distribution and feeding behavior of solifuges (arachnida; solifugae) in Kenya.. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from