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Mygalomorph spiders: Discrete data matrix of burrow construction behavior and somatic morphology

Cite this dataset

Wilson, Jeremy et al. (2022). Mygalomorph spiders: Discrete data matrix of burrow construction behavior and somatic morphology [Dataset]. Dryad.


Mygalomorph spiders (trapdoor spiders and their kin) have long been associated with high levels of homoplasy, and many convergent features can be intuitively associated with different behavioral niches. This dataset includes two discrete behavioral characters and 55 somatic morphological characters (scored from adult females), for 110 genera of mygalomorph spiders, along with a complete reference list and exemplar list used when constructing the dataset. This dataset was used to reconstruct the evolution of burrowing behavior in the Mygalomorphae, compare the influence of behavior and evolutionary history on somatic morphology, and test hypotheses of correlated evolution between specific morphological features and behavior. The results revealed the simplicity of the mygalomorph adaptive landscape, with opportunistic, web-building taxa at one end, and burrowing/nesting taxa with structurally-modified burrow entrances (e.g., a trapdoor) at the other. Shifts in behavioral niche, in both directions, are common across the evolutionary history of the Mygalomorphae, and several major clades include taxa inhabiting both behavioral extremes. Somatic morphology is heavily influenced by behavior, with taxa inhabiting the same behavioral niche often more similar morphologically than more closely-related but behaviorally-divergent taxa.


We scored this dataset by combining a semi-exhaustive literature review with exemplar cross-checking. Morphological characters were scored exclusively from adult females because adult male morphology is at least partially adapted for the terrestrial dispersal phase that they undergo, whereas female morphology is more representative of the general morphology of the species (in that juveniles of both sexes resemble adult females) and is presumably adapted to the sedentary lifestyle of the species. Most of our morphological characters correspond closely with those scored in previous morphological analyses of the Mygalomorphae, with some modifications to decrease ambiguity. Many genera are polymorphic for behavior and/or morphology, and this is reflected in the dataset. A list of relevant references and an exemplar specimen list are included in this dataset.

Usage notes

All files are excel spreadsheets.


Australian Biological Resources Study, Award: RG18-03

Australian Biological Resources Study, Award: 4-H3KOGBR