Pholcinae C.L. Koch, 1850

Huber, Bernhard A., Eberle, Jonas & Dimitrov, Dimitar, 2018, The phylogeny of pholcid spiders: a critical evaluation of relationships suggested by molecular data (Araneae, Pholcidae), ZooKeys 789, pp. 51-101: 63

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Pholcinae C.L. Koch, 1850


Subfamily Pholcinae C.L. Koch, 1850  Figs 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Pholcidae  CL Koch, 1850: 31. Type genus Pholcus  Walckenaer, 1805, by monotypy.

Pholcinae  CL Koch; Simon 1893: 461; Huber 2011b: 218.


Pholcinae  resemble Modisiminae  in several respects. Their highest diversity is in the humid tropics and subtropics, and a large variety of body forms reflect adaptations to different microhabitats. With currently 922 species in 26 genera, Pholcinae  is also similar to Modisiminae  in diversity. In contrast to Modisiminae  , Pholcinae  is largely restricted to the Old World, with the notable exception of the New World endemic genus Metagonia  Simon, 1893 and a few possibly relict species in Pholcus  and Micropholcus  ( Huber 2011a, Huber et al. 2014). While only a single species of Modisiminae  has followed humans around the globe [ Modisimus culicinus  (Simon, 1893)] and one further species has spread widely in Europe and neighboring regions [ Psilochorus simoni  (Berland, 1911)], several synanthropic species in Pholcinae  have attained worldwide distributions or extended their ranges to another continent [most notably Pholcus phalangioides  (Fuesslin, 1775); Spermophora senoculata  ( Dugès, 1836); Micropholcus fauroti  (Simon, 1887); Pholcus manueli  Gertsch, 1937].

The sister-group relationship between Pholcinae  and Smeringopinae  is well established (see above). The same is true for the monophyly of Pholcinae  . All our analyses support this subfamily (reasonable to high support), and morphological data have also supported this group (presence of male lateral proximal cheliceral apophyses, Huber 1995, 2000; tarsus IV comb hairs in a single row, Huber and Fleckenstein 2008).

Even though Pholcinae  are well represented in our analyses (317 of 597 species, i.e., 53%) internal relationships in this subfamily continue to be problematic. Several ‘basal’ nodes are poorly supported (Figure 1); in part the topology is highly sensitive to different algorithms of analysis; and some details appear dubious from the perspective of morphology. However, many details are strongly supported by morphology, including some deep nodes (e.g., the Pholcus  group of genera); and some nodes, even though weakly supported or in conflict with morphology, provide reasonable and testable predictions for further research (e.g., the polyphyly of Spermophora  Hentz, 1841; the close relationship of certain Sri Lankan taxa with African rather than Southeast Asian taxa; the monophyly of African Pholcus  ).

The subfamily is here divided into three operational groups, more for the sake of convenience than as a reflection of the support values they receive. Actually, support is low for all of them, but much of this division is consistent among different analyses and may well reflect real major groups. 'Group 1' (Figs 7, 8) is entirely composed of small six-eyed taxa, and is roughly equivalent to what was originally subsumed under the name Spermophora  . 'Group 2' (Figure 9 part) is also entirely composed of six-eyed taxa and is remarkable because it places the exclusively New World genus Metagonia  close to African and Madagascan taxa. 'Group 3' (Figure 9 part, Figs 10-12) includes the fully supported Pholcus  group of genera as proposed previously ( Huber 2011a) and its sister genus Quamtana  Huber, 2003, a sister-group relationship that has also been proposed before ( Huber 2003c). In the tree shown here (and in the RogueNaRok tree), the ' Spermophora  ' dieke  group has an isolated position outside of the three operational groups. In the other trees, it is part of 'group 1'.