Taxonomy, phylogeography and myrmecophily of the spider genus Mastigusa (Araneae, Cybaeidae)

Castellucci, Filippo (2023) Taxonomy, phylogeography and myrmecophily of the spider genus Mastigusa (Araneae, Cybaeidae), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra, della vita e dell'ambiente, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/11041.
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The genus Mastigusa Menge, 1854 includes small entelegyne spiders represented by extant and fossil species presenting characteristic features in male and female genitalia. The genus has a palearctic distribution, being present in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, and shows ecological plasticity, with free-living, cave- dwelling and myrmecophile populations. The taxonomic history of the genus has been problematic, both regarding its phylogenetic placement and the delimitation of the species it includes. Three extant species are currently recognized, but the characters used to discriminate them have been inconsistent, leading to confusion about their identification and distribution. In the present thesis we addressed the taxonomic issues regarding Mastigusa by combining molecular and morphological data in an integrative taxonomy approach. For the first time, we included the genus in a molecular phylogenetic matrix solving a long going debate regarding its familiar placement, obtaining a well-supported placement in the family Cybaeidae. We used multi-locus molecular phylogenetic and DNA barcoding techniques as a starting point for identifying divergent lineages within the genus and revise the taxonomic status of the three known Mastigusa species, identifying a new species from the Iberian Peninsula, Algeria and the United Kingdom: M. raimondi sp. n. This taxonomic revision allowed a phylogeographic and ecological study of Mastigusa across its distribution range, carried out using phylogenetics and ecological niche modelling techniques, aiming at a comparison of the lifestyles and ecological requirements of the different species on a geographic scale. The Italian Alps were finally used as a testing ground for investigating the ecology and host preference of myrmecophile Mastigusa arietina populations living in association with ant species belonging to the Formica rufa species group. Spiders were found in association with five different Formica species, demonstrating little specificity and the tendency of associating with the locally present host species.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Castellucci, Filippo
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Taxonomy, Systematics, Phylogenetics, Aranneae, Spiders, Mastigusa, Arthropoda, Invertebrates, Myrmecophily, Distribution, Ecology, Phylogeography, Biogeography
Data di discussione
15 Giugno 2023

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