Synopsis and a key of the family Theridiidae and phylogenetic placement of kleptoparasitic spiders (subfamily Argyrodinae) in Israel, based on morphological, behavioral and molecular characters

The diverse spider family Theridiidae is well represented in Israel and was studied taxonomically by G. Levy. In the last decade new synonymies, transfers and delimitations of theridiids were published, while new data from Israel have accumulated. One interesting theridiid subfamily, Argyrodinae, is known for specialized feeding behaviors including kleptoparasitism and araneophagy.  Argyrodines have intrigued researchers due to uncertainties concerning their phylogeny and evolution of specialized traits associated with foraging. Though Argyrodinae is considered monophyletic, only three of the eight genera are monophyletic, while Argyrodes itself is paraphyletic. At least three species are known from the area: Argyrodes argyrodes and Argyrodes syriaca, (Israel) and Argyrodes longicaudata (Lebanon). According to recent revisions, only A. argyrodes belongs to Argyrodes senso stricto while the other two species were transferred to other genera. However, these changes did not include a study of the species from Israel, and the phylogenetic placement of A. argyrodes from Israel remains problematic. Thus, it has become important to study and update the taxonomical status of the argyrodine subfamily and of the theridiid fauna of Israel in general.

This proposed collection-based research will assess new data on the local Theridiidae in general, and the Argyrodinae sub-family specifically, to produce a revised synopsis of Theridiidae and morphological, molecular and behavioral study of Argyrodinae species in Israel.

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