Daddy-long-legs, Harvest Spiders
Compiler and date details
December 2010 - ABRS following advice from Christopher Taylor, Curtin University, Western Australia
31 August 2003 - Glenn S. Hunt, Australian Museum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Mark S. Harvey, Western Australian Museum, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Opiliones, often referred to as harvestmen or daddy-long-legs, are a cosmopolitan group of arachnids that can be distinguished from spiders by the lack of a pedicel joining the cephalothorax and abdomen (Harvey & Yen 1989). Three suborders are generally recognised (e.g. Shear 1982) and the order is currently divided into more than 30 families (e.g. Shear 1980, 1982). Shultz (1998) and Shultz & Regier (2001) have presented an assessment of the major groupings within the Opiliones and their data support the recognition of three major clades, Cyphophthalmi, Laniatores and Palpatores; the latter two were detected as sister-groups and form the clade Phalangida.
The indigenous Australian opilionid fauna is well developed with representatives of all three suborders placed in 10 families. A further two families are represented by introduced species: the Gagrellidae by Nelima doriae (Canestrini), and the Phalangiidae by Opilio parietinus (de Geer). Endemism is extremely high at the generic level with some 61 genera restricted to Australia. Five of the remaining genera (Neopurcellia Forster, Rakaia Hirst, Triaenonyx Sörensen, Acropsopilio Silvestri and Austropsopilio Forster) are restricted to two or more southern continents, while species of Zalmoxis also occur in the south-western Pacific region to the north of Australia.
Many of the species listed in this Catalogue were described by Carl F. Roewer (1881–1963) in a series of major publications spanning several decades from 1910 to his death in 1963 (Kraus 1963). Unfortunately, many of these descriptions are extremely poor by modern standards, and Roewer's modus operandi with regard to developing generic and familial classifications often has been found to be wanting. Some recent revisions (e.g. Hunt 1985, 1990, 1992, 1995; Hunt & Cokendolpher 1991; Hunt & Hickman 1993) resolved many long-standing problems, but further research is necessary to clarify the identity and relationships of many Australian taxa.
This contribution was developed after the untimely death of Glenn Hunt in 1999 and is based upon a list of Australian Opiliones and a list of references that he regularly updated. The remainder of the contribution was completed by M.S.H.
Funding from the Australian Biological Resources Study assisted G.S.H.'s research on Australian harvestmen, and M.S.H. thanks Alice Wells (ABRS) and Keith Houston (formerly with ABRS) for their editorial assistance.
Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.
Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.
Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.
Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.
GAGRELLIDAE: Zaleptus marmoratus Roewer, 1910 — Roewer, C.F. 1955. Indoaustralische Gagrellinae (Opiliones, Arachnida) (Weitere Weberknechte XVIII) 3. Teil. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36: 123-171  (female holotype (MNHN) stated to be Australia; Roewer (1955) considered the type locality to be located in New Guinea)
Giribet, G., Vogt, L., González, A.P., Sharma, P. & Kury, A.B. 2009. A multilocus approach to harvestman (Arachnida: Opiliones) phylogeny with emphasis on biogeography and the systematics of Laniatores. Cladistics 25: 1–30
Hunt, G.S. 1992. Revision of the genus Holonuncia Forster (Arachnida, Opiliones, Triaenonychidae) with description of cavernicolous and epigean species from eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 44: 135-163
Hunt, G.S. & Cokendolpher, J.C. 1991. Ballarrinae, a new subfamily of phalangioid harvestmen from the Southern Hemisphere (Arachnida, Opiliones, Neopilionidae). Records of the Australian Museum 43: 131-169
Hunt, G.S. & Hickman, J.L. 1993. Revision of the genus Lomanella Pocock with implications for family level classification in the Travunioidea (Arachnida: Opiliones: Triaenonychidae). Records of the Australian Museum 45: 81-119
Shultz, J.W. & J.C. Regier 2001. Phylogenetic analysis of Phalangida (Arachnida, Opiliones) using two nuclear protein-encoding genes supports monophyly of Palpatores. Journal of Arachnology 29: 189-200
History of changes
|Published||As part of group||Action Date||Action Type||Compiler(s)|
|02-Apr-2015||OPILIONES||02-Apr-2015||MODIFIED||Dr Federica Turco|