At the heart of every citizen science project are of course the citizens. Your observations are crucial for the project and really help to understand how spiders can adapt to city living! Thank you for that and keep spotting!

There is a core team of biologists from Ghent University behind the Spider-City project and the SpiderSpotter app. They work together with experts from ARABEL (Belgian Arachnological Society) and Natuurpunt. If you want to know more about the Spider-City people, feel free to have a look at the bio’s below! For the specific development of the app, we worked together with SPOTTERON Citizen Science whose extensive experience in citizen science made sure that the app is userfriendly and working smoothly!

Feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

The Team: 

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Bram Vanthournout

Bram Vanthournout is a biologist and researcher at UGent at the EON research group (Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures). He studies spiders to solve evolutionary questions. For example, he investigated why some spider species have more females than males (spoiler: bacteria that kill males but leave females untouched are the cause). He is currently investigating whether spiders can adapt to city life through color in the SPIN-CITY project.

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Pieter Vantieghem

Pieter Vantieghem works at the Terrestrial Ecology Unit of Ghent University as a lab technician. He is helping with the research of the unit in the lab as well as in the field. He is a biodiversity expert with extensive experience in working with birds and all kinds of arthropods like butterflies & moths, flower flies & other pollinating insects and spiders. As a voluntary validator of butterfly sightings on Flanders’ biggest biodiversity citizen science website he also has a good experience in translating science to the less experienced.


Garben Logghe

Garben Logghe is a PhD student at Ghent University within research group TEREC. His FWO project, that is supervised by both Dries Bonte and Dirk Maes (INBO), focuses on connectivity conservation of arthropods under climate change. This means that he’s studying the ability of insects and spiders to mitigate the effects of global warming by dispersing to cooler regions. Both life-history traits of the species (body size, mobility, demography…) and the environmental context are considered. Besides this research, he spends a lot of his free time on studying spiders, including voluntary validating spider observations on the website

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Dries Bonte

Dries Bonte is professor in ecology and evolution at Ghent University. He leads his ‘Spatial Ecology and Evolution’ research group at the Terrestrial Ecology Unit and is editor-in-chief of Oikos – a journal for synthesis in ecology.

His research includes:

  • Dispersal and movement ecology
  • Evolution in spatially structured environments and its impact on ecological processes
  • Plant-arthropod interactions
  • Self-organisation of coastal dunes and resilience against climate change

He uses arthropods -and especially arachnids- as a biological model,  and combines experimental approaches with modelling to gain a firm understanding on how habitat fragmentation, climate change and urbanisation affect biodiversity at multiple levels of biological organisation.


Matt Shawkey

I am a professor in the biology department at the University of Ghent, leading the research group “Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures.” In this group, we study the properties, mechanisms, development and evolution of animal colors using a variety of field- and lab-based techniques. Of particular interest are colors produced by highly ordered nanostructures, and/or from melanin pigments. A new focus in our lab is on the thermal properties of animal coloration.

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Koen Van Keer

At the age of 4, Koen Van Keer (° 1969), together with his 4-year older brother Johan, started collecting and studying spiders. In the 1980s the brothers became active within the Belgian Arachnological Association ARABEL, of which Koen became secretary in January 2004.
His interest in the relationship between humans and spiders led to the publication of the book In de herfst komen ze binnen. Zin en onzin over spinnen, recounting all kinds of stories about spiders. In 2008 his introduction guide for the general public: Op spinnensafari is published.
Between 2004 and 2008 he leads the Antwerp Spider Research Project, identifying 250 spider species in the Antwerp urban area within the Singel.
The exotic spiders in Belgium are another special point of interest.
Together with his brother, he undertakes several Southern European spider excursions and finds various new species for science. Some of those species were named after the Van Keer brothers: Pseudicius vankeeri, Zodarion vankeerorum, Tegenaria vankeerorum and even a real spider genus: Vankeeria.

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Mark Alderweireldt is an ecologist and taxonomist working at the Environmental directorate of the Province East Flanders and as visiting researcher at the Terrestrial Ecology Unit of Ghent University and the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren. His research topics involve biodiversity, applied ecology, taxonomy, zoogeography, bio-indicator value, pest control potential and nature conservation related to spiders and other important taxonomic groups such as carabid beetles and myriapods. He also specialised in the taxonomy and distribution of European, African and Arabian spider faunas, especially Lycosidae (wolf spiders).