Date of Award

8-1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Susan E. Riechert

Committee Members

Arthur Echternacht, Paris Lambdin

Abstract

This study is a review of the biogeography of the North American spider genus Agelenopsis (Giebel) (Araneae: Agelenidae). Previous theoretical and empirical work provides support for the hypothesis that many North American taxa have been subject to disjunction and divergence due to the effects of Late Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles. A summary of the current knowledge of the biology and ecology of the 13 Agelenopsis species is developed and new distribution maps for each species are generated from published collections. A reconstructed phylogeny for the genus is created based on the adult sexual morphology of the species. A detailed hypothesis for the historical biogeography of the genus is developed combining information from the late Pleistocene history of North America, the reconstructed phylogeny and the current distributions of the species. It is concluded that the available information strongly supports the hypothesis that Late Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles were the driving force behind the origin and modern distribution of Agelenopsis species.

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