Research project: The systematics of Australian comb-footed spiders


Start date:

Museum investigators

External investigators

  • Ingi Agnarsson, Zoology Museum, University of Puerto Rico, USA
  • Greg Anderson, Queensland Institute of Medical Research
  • Mark Harvey, Western Australian Museum

Funded by

  • Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS)


I am the Principal Investigator on a three-year Australian Biological Resources Study-funded project looking at comb-footed spiders (Hadrotarsinae), a little-known group of Australian spiders. Hadrotarsines are a diverse, yet largely unknown group of spiders within the family Theridiidae, a family that also includes the well-known redback spider. All of the known species of hadrotarsines feed on ants, making the group important ecologically and offering possibilities for biological control. The subfamily has several distinctive characters that may have evolutionary significance, but its phylogenetic placement within the family Theridiidae is uncertain.

This project will revise the subfamily in Australia, so that for the first time it will be possible to identify many of these spiders to species. We will examine the systematics and placement of the subfamily and contribute to world knowledge on the evolution of spiders.

Dr Helen Smith , Acting Technical Officer and Research Associate
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