Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

From Gondwana to Europe: inferring the origins of Mediterranean Macrothele spiders (Araneae : Hexathelidae) and the limits of the family Hexathelidae

Vera Opatova A B and Miquel A. Arnedo A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat & Departament de Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona. Avinguda Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.

B Corresponding author. Email: Vera.Opatova@gmail.com

Invertebrate Systematics 28(4) 361-374 https://doi.org/10.1071/IS14004
Submitted: 12 January 2014  Accepted: 5 April 2014   Published: 12 September 2014

Abstract

The family Hexathelidae ranks among the smaller mygalomorph spider families. Most species are endemic to the Australasian region and the family was traditionally considered an example of a Gondwanan lineage. However, recent studies have cast some doubt on the monophyly of the family. Macrothele is the only genus with an out-of-Gondwana distribution. The bulk of the Macrothele diversity is found in South-east Asia, few species are known from central Africa and two species inhabit Europe: Macrothele calpeiana (Walckenaer, 1805) from the Iberian Peninsula and Macrothele cretica Kulczynski, 1903 endemic to Crete. Here we investigate the origins of the European Macrothele species by means of a multi-locus phylogenetic approach and by inferring the time frame of the diversification of the genus using Bayesian relaxed clock methods. We also provide further insights into the phylogenetic status of the family Hexathelidae. Our results indicate that the diversification of Macrothele traces back to the period of the Gondwana break-up and its present-day distribution most likely reflects the subsequent tectonic plate movements. The two European species were not recovered as sister taxa, suggesting that Macrothele colonised the Mediterranean region twice independently. The polyphyly of the family Hexathelidae is further confirmed and the subfamily Atracinae is identified as the conflicting lineage.


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