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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

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

Anne McHugh, Carol Yablonsky, Greta Binford, Ingi Agnarsson


The terrestrial biota of the Caribbean islands includes many lineages, some whose presence on the islands dates back some 35-40 MYA when land bridges are thought to have linked islands to continents, and others that have colonized more recently via dispersal. The New World spiny orbweavers (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 colonizations 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.

IS13051  Accepted 03 February 2014
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