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Madagascar: an unexpected hotspot of social Anelosimus spider diversity (Araneae: Theridiidae)

Summary: Madagascar: an unexpected hotspot of social
Anelosimus spider diversity (Araneae: Theridiidae)
I N G I A G N A R S S O N * 1 , 2
and M A T J A Z K U N T N E R 1 , 2
Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, U.S.A. and
Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Abstract. The spider genus Anelosimus Simon, 1891 (Theridiidae) currently con-
tains over forty described species, found worldwide in tropical to warm temperate
areas. American Anelosimus are all social, a rare trait among spiders, but social
behaviour has not been reported for Anelosimus species elsewhere. Old World
Anelosimus are poorly known, both behaviourally and taxonomically, and no Ane-
losimus species have yet been described from sub-Saharan Africa or Madagascar.
Based on a preliminary phylogenetic analysis we predicted sociality in an unde-
scribed Madagascar species because it grouped among social New World species. An
expedition to Madagascar then found no less than five undescribed periodic-social
(subsocial) Anelosimus species in PeŽ rinet reserve. A sixth species from the same
locality is known from museum specimens and the Anelosimus diversity of PeŽ rinet
is comparable with the most diverse single locality in the Americas. Subsocial species


Source: Agnarsson, Ingi - Department of Biology, Universidad de Puerto Rico


Collections: Biology and Medicine