Justin Williams

Unido: 10.sep.2018 Última actividad: 17.jul.2024 iNaturalist Patrocinador mensual desde diciembre 2019


I'm an amateur nature/photography enthusiast with a particular interest in arthropods, especially spiders. I enjoy macro photography because it lets us share the strange and beautiful intricacies of the natural world on a level that can't be seen with the naked eye. I feel that it can help bring some much-needed interest and admiration to these amazing and often-underappreciated animals that live all around us. At least it did for me. :-) I also hope to help document the wonderful biodiversity of Texas and my little corner of it here in Austin.

Outside of spiders, I work in IT and am raising a daughter to hopefully appreciate nature as much as I do :)

An important note about identifying spiders from photos: When we try to place an ID on an observation, we are making a best guess based on what we know about the external characteristics of different spiders. In science, specific identifications are almost always made by looking at the shape/structure of the genitalia under a microscope, along with other characteristics that are usually not visible even in high quality macro photos - things like eye spacing, number/location of hairs on the legs, etc. In many cases there are several similar-looking species or even genera that are difficult to separate even with sharp photos. Many species have significant variation in color/size, and many species have never been photographed outside of preserved museum specimens. There are also many undescribed species that look similar to the ones we know about. iNaturalist encourages us to try and figure out exactly what kind of life form we have observed (which is good! curiosity is good!) - but when it comes to small arthropods like spiders, making a confident ID from only photos is often just not possible. This can be frustrating to people who follow popular taxa like birds and butterflies, but it's just a fact of life with many diverse groups of arthropods. So, please accept that it is often not reasonable to place a specific name on a spider just from photographs, and resist the temptation to try and "choose" a species.

Also, please take care when clicking the "Agree" button on someone else's ID (especially the Computer Vision / Auto-ID) - When you agree with an ID and make an observation "Research Grade" it is sent to the GBIF and made available to researchers, and bad data can be frustrating to scientists. "Research Grade" observations are also used to train iNaturalist's Computer Vision, so incorrectly-identified RG observations can reduce the effectiveness of the auto-ID algorithm for future observers. So, please don't think of "Research Grade" as a personal badge indicating a high quality photo/observation - when you click the "Agree" button, you are indicating that you believe it to be that species, based on your personal knowledge or research. Again, when it comes to small arthropods, it's often not possible to determine the exact species without examining a physical specimen, and trying to force it can cause problems for the people who study these things. I thought this was worth a few words as it comes up frequently in conversation, so thank you for reading this bit!

If you like spiders too, check out my list of interesting spiders!

Recommended reading for general/background info on spiders: All You Need to Know About Spiders

For a more picture-heavy book on spiders and arachnids, check out Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles

A comprehensive new field guide, out now(!): Spiders of North America by Sarah Rose

And a fantastic overview of spider families - Spiders of the World by the late Dr. Norman Platnick

Chat with me and other iNat users on the (unofficial) iNat Discord

Some of my favorite photographers on iNat: xx7trey, aperturesciencebydan, tshahan, wildcarrot, treegrow, yukioz, alice_abela, mhedin, jeffheard, kwiener, kyran2, jciv, jcowles

Helpful Austin/Texas Spider & Insect Resources:

Texas Spiders Checklist (TAMU)

Valerie Bugh's "Austin Bug Collection"

Travis County Beetle Checklist

Texas Entomology

Psocoptera of Texas

Other Useful Links:

Spider Eye Arrangement Guide (BugGuide)

Glossary of Spider Terms (Wikipedia)

My photos have been used in the following books/publications/websites:

P.S. Almost all of my observations are from around my house in east Austin - If you are interested in any of my observations for research purposes, send me a PM. Same goes for use of any of my photos in books, field guides, websites, etc. - Please reach out and I will probably be happy to help.

P.P.S. I am offering best-effort identification of preserved spiders on a limited basis. Preferably Texas/SE US. Specimens need to be adult and preserved in alcohol. Contact me if you are interested.

P.P.P.S. Spider in my profile pic is a Hentzia palmarum jumper - they have the cutest eyelashes! <3

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