Phylogenetic reconstruction of the wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) using sequences from the 12S rRNA, 28S rRNA, and NADH1 genes: Implications for classification, biogeography, and the evolution of web building behavior
Current knowledge of the evolutionary relationships amongst the wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) is based on assessment of morphological similarity or phylogenetic analysis of a small number of taxa. In order to enhance the current understanding of lycosid relationships, phylogenies of 70 lycosid species were reconstructed by parsimony and Bayesian methods using three molecular markers; the mitochondrial genes 12S rRNA, NADH1, and the nuclear gene 28S rRNA. The resultant trees from the mitochondrial markers were used to assess the current taxonomic status of the Lycosidae and to assess the evolutionary history of sheet-web construction in the group. The results suggest that a number of genera are not monophyletic, including Lycosa, Arctosa, Alopecosa, and Artoria. At the subfamilial level, the status of Pardosinae needs to be re-assessed, and the position of a number of genera within their respective subfamilies is in doubt (e.g., Hippasa and Arctosa in Lycosinae and Xerolycosa, Aulonia and Hygrolycosa in Venoniinae). In addition, a major clade of strictly Australasian taxa may require the creation of a new subfamily. The analysis of sheet-web building in Lycosidae revealed that the interpretation of this trait as an ancestral state relies on two factors: (1) an asymmetrical model favoring the loss of sheet-webs and (2) that the suspended silken tube of Pirata is directly descended from sheet-web building. Paralogous copies of the nuclear 28S rRNA gene were sequenced, confounding the interpretation of the phylogenetic analysis and suggesting that a cautionary approach should be taken to the further use of this gene for lycosid phylogenetic analysis.