Hairy legs in the Nursery
With over 300 species, the nursery web spiders (family Pisauridae) have conquered the world; they can be found on every continent. The family members hunt on the water, in the vegetation, in trees, on the forest floor, and in webs. Females of the family carry their silken egg sacs in their fangs, and build a nursery web for the spiderlings, when these are hatching. As in other spiders, the Pisauridae have complex male and female copulatory organs, and hairy legs, often with an intricate spine pattern. Analyzing the evolutionary relationships among the over 40 genera of the family using morphological and molecular characters in conjunction with their geographic distribution will enable us to explain speciation events, and trace geologic events, such as glaciations, climate and vegetation changes of the past.
Research methods and techniques: The intern will be trained in spider morphology, identification, and dissections. S/He will acquire skills to operate light and scanning electron microscopes, to produce and to manipulate images using sophisticated software. The newly generated morphological data will be added to the existing data pool, allowing comparative analyses and phylogenetic inference using these data.
Advisors: Dr. Petra Sierwald (Curator, Arachnida and Myriapoda) and Dr. Estevam da Silva (Postdoctoral Researcher, Arachnida and Myriapoda)