Basic information
Researchers involved:
1 September 2005–31 August 2007

The recent spider literature does not support arms race models (antagonistic coevolution), but my preliminary data on nephilid spiders (Nephilidae, Simon) suggest otherwise. Spiders are ideal for studying genital divergence because that is often the only salient trait that differs; all others (life-history, reproduction) are thus held constant. Evolutionary questions are best asked in the context of a solid phylogeny. Here, we propose to test a new morphological phylogeny for nephilids (and thus the evolution of sexual traits) with genomic data. The combination of morphological and genomic data should provide the best context in which to analyse currently available behavioural evidence. The three lines of evidence together form the basis for a proposed long-term collaborative international research programme that unites three spider biology experts with different expertises. This project will reintegrate me into European science after six years of research in the USA. Spider genital evolution contrasts with better known animal models, and may strongly challenge existing models of sexual selection and related evolutionary processes.

Project manager at ZRC

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