Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

Increased sampling blurs morphological and molecular species limits: revision of the Hispaniolan endemic spider genus Tainonia (Araneae : Pholcidae)

Bernhard A. Huber A B and Jonas J. Astrin A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Alexander Koenig Research Museum of Zoology, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Invertebrate Systematics 23(3) 281-300
Submitted: 14 March 2009  Accepted: 4 June 2009   Published: 21 July 2009


The genus Tainonia comprises unusually large pholcids endemic to Hispaniola. Previously, only the type species had been formally described, represented in collections by no more than 12 adult specimens. However, the existence of more species has been hypothesised based on a few further individuals. The present paper is based on a sample of 205 mostly newly collected adult specimens from 18 localities in the Dominican Republic and four localities in Haiti. The increased sampling reveals a wide range of variation, including intermediate levels of divergence that often blur rather than clarify species limits. Therefore, although not all taxonomic questions can be settled here, morphological (including morphometric) and molecular (mitochondrial 16S, CO1) data strongly support two new species: one in La Visite National Park, Haiti (T. visite, sp. nov.) and another on Samaná Peninsula and parts of the eastern Dominican Republic (T. samana, sp. nov.). Species limits among the other populations are more difficult to support or reject. Specimens from Bayahibe (eastern Dominican Republic) and from La Ciénaga (Cordillera Central) are each assigned species status on the basis of consistent morphological differences (T. bayahibe, sp. nov., T. cienaga, sp. nov.), but no molecular data are available due to lack of specimens. All other specimens are provisionally assigned to a possibly paraphyletic T. serripes (Simon). There is considerable morphological variation within this widely distributed group of populations but this variation is rather continuous and molecular distances fill most of the range between morphologically unambiguous conspecifics and unambiguous heterospecifics.

Additional keywords: 16S, barcoding, CO1, Dominican Republic, Haiti, morphometrics, taxonomy.


The first author is grateful to Erwing Monsanto (Port-au-Prince) for arranging everything for the 2007 trip to Haiti, for his hospitality and for support in uncounted ways. BAH further thanks Abel Pérez González for his help in applying for a collection permit for the Dominican Republic and to Mrs. Aleyda Capella (Secretaria de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Santo Domingo) for preparing the permit. Two anonymous referees provided helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. The trip to the Dominican Republic was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, HU 980/5-1) and the Alexander Koenig Stiftung. The trip to Haiti and molecular work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, HU 980/7-1).


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