Project description


Pedro Cardoso

Jose Guadanucci

Ole Gudik-Sørensen

Søren Langemark

Nikolaj Scharff

Jesper B. Schmidt





Revision and phylogeny of the subfamily Gasteracanthinae (Araneidae, Araneae).



The primary goal of this project is to establish the generic phylogeny of the subfamily Gasteracanthinae in order to test the monophyly of the subfamily and its included genera. A secondary goal is to taxonomically revise the various genera of the subfamily and provide identification keys to all species.


A first preliminary analysis of the subfamily was published by Scharff & Coddington (1997), including representatives of 12 gasteracanthine genera and 58 representatives of other araneid/araneoid genera. This work suggested that the subfamily, as previously defined, is paraphyletic and need redefinition. The old world gasteracanthines (Gasteracantha, Isoxya, Gastroxya, Aetrocantha, Togocantha, Austracantha, Augusta and Macracantha) came out as monophyletic in this analysis and sister to Caerostris+Aspidolasius. The new world gasteracanthines (Micrathena, Chaetacis, Encyosaccus and Xylethrus) also came out as monophyletic, but sister to Arkys+Archemorus+Hypognatha


The various revisions of individual genera turned out to be much more complicated than expected and therefore also very time consuming. The morphological variation within species and genera are considerable and require large amounts of material from various geographical areas. In the past, people have only looked at material from restricted geographical areas and therefore not discovered this variation.


The project is ongoing and will be speeded up in the near future, when Tamás Szűts joins the arachnology section in Copenhagen to work with me on araneids in general and gasteracanthines in particular.




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