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Salticidae: Diagnostic Drawings Library

by Jerzy Proszynski 2009

Supplement: Biographies of Arachnologists
Jerzy Prószynski

Employed as a full time researcher in 1955.

I begun studies on spiders in years 1954-57 as a student of the Warsaw University, Poland, by preparing diploma thesis on fauna of 5 families of spider nearby Warsaw (Proszynski J. 1961). Poland has long traditions of research on spiders, but there was a long gap in these, and I had to start from beginning, without any introductory help. One of families studied were Salticidae, and I concentrated on them since 1960. I realized soon that I can gain understanding of the group only by broad comparative study of whole genera and so started with revisions of genera Sitticus (Proszynski 1968d, 1971a, 1973a, 1980d) and Yllenus (Proszynski 1968e, which was my PhD thesis, received in 1966). But which position occupy these genera within the family? There was no reliable Introduction, or Key to the family for geographical areas broader than a few single countries (I quickly realized that Simon 1901-1903 is of little help) so begun to revise type species of the genera - in this cycle appeared papers: Proszynski, 1967, 1968a, 1968b, 1968c, 1971c.
All the above papers required loans of type specimens from various collections, usually being in more or less chaotic state, with curators having no information on contents of their collections. So I started visiting various collections and make quick lists of their specimens for future loans; some collections had some sorts of catalogues, in other I had to open jar after jar, remove all vials and write down the Salticidae specimens. In some collections I had even to search in various rooms and cabinets, for forgotten and lost collection jars. The results was a "Catalogue of Salticidae (Aranei) specimens kept in major collections of the world" (Proszynski, 1971b), which was later included into the present computer Monograph. Continuation of cataloging collections were list I made in a number of USA collections, large and small, in years 1985/86 and 1989/90.
A good opportunity for these travel were 4 years of my employment as lecturer of zoology in the University of Ghana, in Legon, Ghana, in years 1963-67, where I used my vacation home tickets, and all savings, for visiting collections - and cities they were kept in. That gave me also a great opportunity to meet personally a number of arachnologists, and curators of the collections. I had also opportunity to stay longer at some collections, and study their types on the spot. As a result, I made a considerable number of diagnostic drawings, and quick descriptions for future publications.
Return to Poland in 1967 resulted in preparation of a "Catalogue of Spiders of Poland" (Proszynski, Starega 1971), several publications and also in several visits in more collections (Berlin, Leningrad). However, troubles also developed. In 1972 I become a head of newly organized Department of Biology in a new Teachers Training College in a provincional town Siedlce in Poland, which I have built up almost from nothing, and for some time was also Vice-Dean. This excluded any scientific work for 4 years, and seriously limited my research possibilities for the future. As a result a paper on Salticidae of Japan, begun about 1968, appeared printed in 1987 (Bohdanowicz, Proszynski 1987). Trying not to loose unpublished drawing I added them (as figures 311-450) to a second doctor degree (=dr hab.) thesis (Proszynski 1976), an invention I followed in "Atlases" of drawings (Proszynski 1984c, 1987). The paper of 1976 was a development of my preliminary idea of how to get picture of geographical distribution of Salticidae: in 1960 I begun mappig distribution data from "Bibliographia ..." of Bonnet. I realized very soon that maps of distribution of names unknown to me is meaningless, so in the paper of 1976 I mapped only those species which I studied and drawn myself, or to which existed reliable drawings; all together I selected only a half of nominal species described from Palaearctic Region. Continuation of that was study of distribution of Sitticus (1983a).
Lecturing and organizing Department of Zoology in Siedlce took a lot of time, but offered some advantages as well. There was nobody controlling and limiting my activities, a freedom I treasured very much. I had not much financial support, but if I organized it, nobody could prevent me from using it. So I participated in several International Congresses and Symposia of Arachnology, trying to connect them with some research on type specimens at the institutions abroad. I could select peoples to employ on teaching position in my Department, and influence their development as scientist, and in this way trained several good arachnologists (Heciak, Wesolowska, Prochniewicz, Zabka - the two latter begun as my freshmen students). I influenced also teaching level in my Department.
With some 500 genera of Salticidae, containing over 4800 nominal species, the goal of understanding their overall pattern of relationship, simply by revising type species and genus after genus, appeared impossible to reach singlehanded. I was always keen to cooperate with younger colleagues and developed wide contacts, which included exchange of experience on identity of taxa and unpublished diagnostic drawings, that stimulated me to publish "Atlases..." with drawings of types, and since 1995 - development of Internet "Monograph...". Curiosity of contents of faunae of distant lands, and their relationships, lead to development of another passion: to learn faunae of heretofore poorly understood geographical areas. I begun that by study of collections from former USSR (1979), of Mongolia (1882), of Japan (1987), of Saudi Arabia (1989, 1993). Two studies of this cycle are of special importance: study of hitherto unknown fauna of Israel and adjacent countries (begun in 1987, published in 2003, earlier accessible in this computer monograph and in partial publications in 1998, 1999 and 2000), of India (1992a) and of Pacific Islands (in 1992b, and with Berry and Beatty in 1996, 1997, 1998). I induced also my collaborators to study faunae of North Korea and China (Wesolowska 1882a, b) and Vietnam (Zabka 1985; the later Author produced next a series of paper on Salticidae of SE Asia, Australia and Pacific Islands).
I used to present partial generalizations from research, mainly of distribution and faunal relationships on Salticidae during consecutive Congresses and Symposia, these were, among others, papers of 1972, 1975, 1978b, 1980a, 1981b, 1983a, 1986a, 1988, 1996, 1980b (with Bohdanowicz), 1994 (with Lubin).
Searching for best way to generalize knowledge on Salticidae I have finally invented and developed this computer monograph, which took me 15 years of work - since 2004 as a relational database called now "Monograph of the Salticidae (Araneae) of the World". See also list of my publications .

My name is often associated with curatorship of the spider collection in my Institute in Wasaw, Poland: actually that is not the truth - during 30 years (between 1972 and 2003) I got direct access to the collection only part time during 6 months (in 1991-1992), for the reasons beyond my control.

Summary

Looking back on 50 years of my full time employment as a scientist (from September 1955) I consider top results of my life the 
following two kinds of achievements.  
1. A synthetic works on taxonomy of Salticidae - the present Internet monograph  "Monograph of Salticidae (Araneae) of the 
 World". That Monograph become official electronic publications (as defined by the 1999 edition of the International  Code of
 Zoological  Nomenclature [Chapter  3, Article 7, Par 8.6]) in  2003, and in more developed form in 2007, the actual version is dated
December 2009 and is now available also as a printout. These contains summary of results of all taxonomic studies on Salticidae since 
Clerck (1757).
 2. Making  a life success of the 1967 setback (prevention to come for received Post-Doc scholarship at Museum of Comparative 
 Zoology, Harvard University, by refusal to extend my passport by my country Authorities) by undertaking organization (from 
  point zero) of the Department of Biology (later Zoology)  in a newly established provincional Teachers Training College, in
  Sielce, Poland. I spent there 20 years, setting the character of the Deparment during my tenure and developing it as a center
  for research on Salticidae and students' education. After my depature, the work is being continued by my collaborators, led by
  Professor Marek Zabka. As a research establishment, the  level is testified by the names of researchers, who published over
   150 scientific papers while I was employed there, recently undertaken organization of the International Congress of 
   Arachnologists in 2010. 
                                                                                                                                           Jerzy Proszynski, 1. VII. 2009.

Copyright © for the page by J. Proszynski, 2007.