New World 'Leptopholcus' are misplaced

Invertebrate Systematics

Leptopholcus in Africa and Asia are leaf-dwelling pholcids with pale-greenish coloration and long and slender bodies. Superficially very similar spiders have long been known from the Caribbean, and have recently also been discovered in Venezuela and Brazil. Whether these New World representatives of Leptopholcus are misplaced or not has long been debated.

In a recent molecular study we have shown that Caribbean (Hispaniolan) representatives are more closely related to the genus Micropholcus than to ‘true’ African Leptopholcus (Dimitrov, Astrin & Huber 2013). Here we provide new molecular and morphological data about Caribbean (Cuban, Puerto Rican) and South American (Brazilian) representatives, supporting the sister-group relationship with Micropholcus and suggesting a monophyletic New World clade that in turn consists of a Caribbean and a South American clade.

Leptopholcus tipula from Africa, Guinea (left) and 'Leptopholcus' (now Micropholcus) delicatulus from Cuba (right). Photos BAH.