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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 28(4)

Molecular phylogenetics of Caribbean Micrathena (Araneae : Araneidae) suggests multiple colonisation events and single island endemism

Anne McHugh A C, Carol Yablonsky A, Greta Binford B and Ingi Agnarsson A

A University of Vermont, Department of Biology, 109 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.
B Lewis & Clark College, Department of Biology, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd, Portland, OR 97219, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: akmchugh@gmail.com

Invertebrate Systematics 28(4) 337-349 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/IS13051
Submitted: 18 October 2013  Accepted: 3 February 2014   Published: 12 September 2014

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The terrestrial biota of the Caribbean islands includes many lineages, some whose presence on the islands dates back some 35–40 million years ago, when land bridges are thought to have linked islands to continents, and others that have colonised more recently via dispersal. The New World spiny orb-weavers (Micrathena Sundevall, 1833) are a diverse group of mostly Neotropical spiders. Eight species have been described on the Greater Antilles islands: three widespread and five single island endemics. Here, using three molecular markers (16S rRNA, ITS-2 and COI) we provide a preliminary phylogenetic test of the taxonomy and biogeography of Caribbean Micrathena through the first molecular phylogeny of the genus. Our analyses support monophyly of the genus, but not that of Caribbean Micrathena with at least 3–4 colonisations from South America. We sampled six of the eight nominal Caribbean species (M. banksi, M. cubana, M. similis, M. forcipata, M. horrida, M. militaris), but demark eight divergent genetic lineages that all are single island endemics, and morphologically distinct. Thus a revision of the taxonomy of Caribbean Micrathena is needed. Our results function foremost to guide more thorough taxon sampling of Micrathena that enable more rigorous assessments of its diversity and biogeography in the Caribbean.

Additional keywords: biogeography, Cenozoic dispersal, phylogeography, spiny orb-weavers, vicariance.


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