Huntsman spider phylogeny informs evolution of life history, egg sacs, and morphology

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Huntsman spiders (Araneae: Sparassidae) are among the most speciose spider families, with a near-worldwide distribution, diverse habitats, equally diverse life histories, and five prolonged subsocial species. Previous molecular phylogenies have focused on individual subfamilies or clades. Here, we provide a phylogenetic inference with broadened sampling from 37 genera and eight of the eleven sparassid subfamilies. We increased taxon sampling by including species not previously sequenced and most available data on GenBank of two mitochondrial (COI, 16S rRNA) and two nuclear (H3, 28S rRNA) genes for a total of 262 ingroup taxa and nine outgroup taxa. Divergence dates were estimated using outgroup fossil taxa suggesting the sparassids evolved ∼100 mya (stem age), while the clade containing all subfamilies except Sparianthinae evolved ∼90 mya (stem age). Using a stochastic map approach with 40 species, this is the first sparassid phylogeny to incorporate extensive biology and life history data. Correlations of life history traits with solitary, subsocial, and prolonged subsocial behavior are examined using the D-test. Sparassid sociality is associated with life history traits that allow developing spiders to remain in their natal retreat longer (e.g., larger permanent retreats, plastered egg sacs, and ontogenetically delayed foraging), but is unrelated to body size or lifespan. Detailed morphological scoring of the endemic Australian subfamily Deleninae contextualizes existing molecular data, including in the Isopeda-Holconia-Isopedella complex. This study supports the monophyly of many major lineages, including for the first time, the Sparianthinae, but indicates multiple clades (Sparassinae and Eusparassinae) are paraphyletic and need further revision.
Gorneau JA., Rheims CA, Moreau CS., Rayor LS.. Huntsman spider phylogeny informs evolution of life history, egg sacs, and morphology. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 2022 Sept;174:107530. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2022.107530.
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