At a time when the planet's biodiversity is under threat as habitats are being rapidly cleared, many species become extinct before their existence is even discovered. For many that are recorded, little or nothing is known of their ecology or behaviour. This situation is especially true of Neotropical species. Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, a PhD student at the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, Trinidad adds to the body of literature on the subject with her book Ecology of Web-Building Spiders: Focus on Four Neotropical Species. This book consists of a series of studies on four species found in Trinidad.
The major focus is on the species Mesabolivar aurantiacus and its relationship with its microhabitat, as well as other organisms that share this habitat and its web, including the spider Azilia vachoni. Notes on the web structure of Physocyclus globosus and an aggregation of the semi-social tarantula Ischnothele caudata are also included.
It is hoped that this book will serve to fill the gap in knowledge of the spider fauna of this region and will be useful to the nature enthusiast and scientist alike in learning about the ecology and behaviour of some of this region's unique spiders.
Sewlal also holds BSc and MPhil degrees from UWI. Her PhD dissertation focuses on biodiversity, with respect to three orb-weaving spider families in Trinidad but she has also conducted research on the spider fauna on some of the�Eastern�Caribbean�Islands, including Anguilla, Antigua, Nevis, St Kitts, Grenada and Montserrat. She is also the author of 20 scientific publications and more than 200 general publications and serves as a referee for two international peer-reviewed journals. Sewlal writes a weekly column on environmental and nature in one of the national weekly newspapers on behalf of the NGO Environment Tobago, and is the editor of the quarterly newsletter for the same NGO.
Sewlal was also one of the first participants selected for the International Darwin Scholarship Programme last year by the Field Studies Council. She is also a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London and a member of the Society of Biology, Royal Entomological Society and American Arachnological Society, from which she received a record three consecutive Vincent Roth Awards, a first for the Society.