Argyrodes: Phylogeny, sociality and interspecific interactions - A report on the Argyrodes symposium, Badplaas 2001

Mary Whitehouse*, Ingi Agnarsson, Tadashi Miyashita, Deborah Smith, Karen Cangialosi, Toshiya Masumoto, Daiqin Li, Yann Henaut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Argyrodes Simon 1864 is a large, cosmopolitan theridiid genus whose members exhibit a wide range of foraging techniques which usually involve exploiting other spiders, either by using their webs, stealing their food, or preying on them directly. We held a symposium on this genus at the 15th International Congress of Arachnology, Badplaas, South Africa in order to obtain a clearer perspective on the relationship between the phylogeny of the genus and the different foraging techniques. We concluded that Argyrodes forms a monophyletic group within the Theridiidae, and that there are clear monophyletic clades within the genus (already identified as species groups) that appear to share behavioral characteristics. We found no clear indication that foraging behaviors such as kleptoparasitism (stealing food) evolved from araneophagy (eating spiders) or vice versa. However, it appears that species that specialize in either kleptoparasitism or araneophagy use additional techniques in comparison to species that readily use both foraging modes. During our examination of Argyrodes/host interactions we noted the importance of Nephila species as hosts of Argyrodes species around the world and the impact of Argyrodes on Nephila. We also noted the fluid nature of the relationship between Argyrodes and the spiders with which they interact. For example, an Argyrodes/host relationship can change to an Argyrodes/prey relationship, and the type of kleptoparasitic behavior employed by an Argyrodes can change when it changes host species. The importance of eating silk was also noted and identified as an area for further research. We concluded that more work involving international collaboration is needed to fully understand the phylogeny of the genus and the relationships between the different types of foraging behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arachnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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