Overview

Comprehensive Description

LINYPHIIDAEAraneaeArachnidaArthropodaAnimalia

LINYPHIIDAE

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LinyphiidaeAnimalia

Linyphiidae Blackwall, 1859

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Hoeksema, Bert W.

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LinyphiidaeAnimalia

Linyphiidae Blackwall, 1859

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Hoeksema, Bert W.

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LINYPHIIDAEAraneaeArachnidaArthropodaAnimalia

LINYPHIIDAE

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Plazi

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Distribution

Geographic Range

Sheetweb weavers are one of the biggest families of spiders in the world, and they are found all around the world. There are at least 60 species in Michigan, and probably more that are not yet known.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Sheetweb weavers are small, dark, shiny spiders that build interesting webs. They are less then 8 mm long. Like all spiders they have two body-segments, a cephalothorax in front and an abdomen behind. They have eight legs, all attached to the cephalothorax. On the front of the cephalothorax are the fangs, the eyes, and two small "mini-legs" called pedipalps. The pedipalps are used to grab prey, and in mating, and are much bigger in male spiders than in females. Sheetweb spiders have eight eyes in two rows of four. They have fangs that they use to bite their prey with, and venom glands. On their fangs are rough spots that they can rub together to make sounds.

It is impossible for us to tell the difference between a sheetweb weaver and a cobweb weaver except by looking at their webs (see below for more on sheetwebs).

Range length: 1.5 to 8.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Sheetweb weavers are found in all kinds of habitats: anywhere there are small insects and at least a little vegetation to build their webs on.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Wetlands: swamp

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Spiders in this family spin small horizontal sheets of webbing, or domes (see the pictures for an example). They hang upside-down underneath the web, and when a small Insecta or other animal walks across it, they bite through the silk, then grab their prey and pull it through to eat it.

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Associations

Predation

Sheetweb weavers hide underneath their webs, and sometimes make two layers of web and hide between them for protection. If disturbed by a larger animal they quickly drop down into nearby vegetation to get away.

Known Predators:

  • other Araneae 
  • Chilopoda
  • Formicidae
  • Carabidae
  • small Amphibia 

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

These spiders have special structures on their fangs that they can rub together to make sounds to communicate with. They probably also use web vibrations, and certainly use taste and smell to communicate.

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Life Cycle

Development

These spiders hatch from eggs, and the hatchlings look more or less like grown-up spiders, though sometimes their colors change as they age. To grow they have to shed their exoskeleton, which they do many times during their lives.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

These little spiders probably don't live much longer than a year.

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Reproduction

Breeding interval: After mating, female sheetweb weavers lay eggs.

Breeding season: Probably Spring, Summer, or Fall

Key Reproductive Features: sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Females hide their eggs in special egg sacks made of silk, sometimes attached to their webs (and probably guarded by her) and sometimes just stuck to twisted grass stems and left alone.

Parental Investment: female parental care

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:14883
Specimens with Sequences:13200
Specimens with Barcodes:12751
Species:877
Species With Barcodes:788
Public Records:5268
Public Species:374
Public BINs:425
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Barcode data

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Conservation

Conservation Status

No sheetweb weavers are known to be in danger, but there are still many species out there we don't know anything about.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These are harmless little spiders that might help keep the population of small insects under control, but don't have any strong direct effects on humans.

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Wikipedia

Linyphiidae

Linyphiidae is a family of very small spiders, including more than 4,300 described species in 578 genera worldwide. This makes Linyphiidae the second largest family of spiders after the Salticidae. New species are still being discovered throughout the world, and the family is poorly known. Because of the difficulty in identifying such tiny spiders, there are regular changes in taxonomy as species are combined or divided.

Spiders in this family are commonly known as sheet weavers (from the shape of their webs), or money spiders (in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and in Portugal, from the superstition that if such a spider is seen running on you, it has come to spin you new clothes, meaning financial good fortune).

There are six subfamilies, of which Linyphiinae (the sheetweb spiders), Erigoninae (the dwarf spiders), and Micronetinae, contain the majority of described species.

Common genera include Neriene, Lepthyphantes, Erigone, Eperigone, Bathyphantes, Troglohyphantes, the monotypic genus Tennesseellum and many others. These are among the most abundant spiders in the temperate regions, although many are also found in the tropics. The generally larger bodied members of the subfamily Linyphiinae are commonly found in classic "bowl and doily" webs or filmy domes. The usually tiny members of the Erigoninae are builders of tiny sheet webs. These tiny spiders (usually 3 mm or less) commonly balloon even as adults and may be very numerous in a given area on one day, only to disappear the next. Some males of the erigonines are exceptional, with their eyes set up on mounds or turrets. This reaches an extreme in some members of the large genus Walckenaeria, where several of the male's eyes are placed on a stalk taller than the carapace.

A few spiders in this family include:

Distribution[edit]

Spiders of this family occur nearly worldwide. In Norway many species have been found walking on snow at temperatures of down to -7 °C.

Taxonomy[edit]

The Pimoidae are the sister group to the Linyphiidae.[2]

Many species have been described in monotypic genera, especially in the Erigoninae, which probably reflects the scientific techniques traditionally used in this family.[2]

Predators[edit]

Among birds, Goldcrests are known to prey on money spiders.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cirrus Digital, Sheetweb Spider - Drapetisca alteranda
  2. ^ a b c Hormiga 2000
  3. ^ RSPB Birds magazine, Winter 2004

Footnotes[edit]

  • Hormiga, G. (1998). The spider genus Napometa (Araneae, Araneoidea, Linyphiidae). Journal of Arachnology 26:125-132 PDF
  • Hormiga, Gustavo (2000): Higher Level Phylogenetics of Erigonine Spiders (Araneae, Linyphiidae, Erigoninae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 609. (160 pages) PDF
  • Bosselaers, J & Henderickx, H. (2002) A new Savignia from Cretan caves (Araneae: Linyphiidae). Zootaxa 109:1-8 PDF
  • Hågvar, S. & Aakra, K. 2006. Spiders active on snow in Southern Norway. Norw. J. Entomol. 53, 71-82.
  • Platnick, Norman I. (2007): The world spider catalog, version 8.0. American Museum of Natural History.

Gallery[edit]


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