The Arachnid Order Solifugae



Major Collections
Type DepositoriesPast Researchers
Present Researchers
Globel Survey/Inventory

Project Aims

Diversity Inventories

Morphology, Anatomy, Cytogenetic and Behavior Surveys

Higher Phylogeny, Classification and Biogeography

Revisionary Syntheses

outreach activities

Other Projects
Collecting Techniques
Preservation Techniques


Aims of the
Global Survey and Inventory of Solifugae

Collaboration and Training:

  • Provide resources for collaboration and networking among the world’s solifuge specialists and arachnologists interested in solifuge research in 17 countries;

  • Train a PhD student from Namibia, the country with the world’s greatest solifuge diversity, who will revise a solifuge family dominant in southern Africa;

  • Assist a specialist with few resources to complete his PhD on the systematics of solifuges in central Asia, another region of high diversity;

  • Assist two postdoctoral specialists on solifuge anatomy and a Masters student studying solifuge behavior with their research;

  • Involve graduate, undergraduate, and high school students, as well as volunteers, in research in several countries of high solifuge diversity: Argentina, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, South Africa, Turkey, U.S.A.

Diversity Inventories:

  • Conduct research and inventories of Solifugae in 13 countries in four regions of greatest diversity (Figure 1): the Afrotropical (Namibia, South Africa, Kenya), Palearctic (Israel, Turkey, Egypt, three central Asian republics), Nearctic (Mexico, southwestern U.S.A.) and Neotropical (Argentina, Chile) regions;

  • Provide resources for further inventories by arachnologists interested in Solifugae in these countries;

  • Inventory and database solifuge collections in these countries and the major historical collections in Europe.

Morphology, Anatomy, Cytogenetic and Behavior Surveys:

  • Survey and document the external morphology,internal anatomy, cytogenetics, and reproductive behavior of the major taxonomic groups (families and subfamilies) using field-collected material

  • Data from these studies will be gathered primarily for incorporation into a higher-level phylogenetic analysis of Solifugae and for use in diagnostic keys to solifuge families and subfamilies, but will also stimulate further research in these fields, e.g., by clarifying the function of the male flagellum and documenting the solifuge karyotype.

Higher Phylogeny, Classification and Biogeography:

  • Reconstruct the phylogeny of solifuge families and subfamilies, sampling exemplars from as many genera as possible, using DNA, external morphology, internal anatomy, cytogenetic and behavioral data.

  • Revise the suprageneric classification (based on monophyly), develop workable diagnostic keys to families and subfamilies (based on synapomorphies), and test biogeographical and evolutionary hypotheses.

Revisionary Syntheses:

  • Revise the taxonomy of three solifuge families, using freshly-collected and museum material. Revisions will employ modern concepts and methods, including automatically generated descriptions, digital imaging of specimens and morphological characters, quantitative phylogenetic analysis of morphological and molecular data, mapping and spatial analysis of distributions with GIS, and interactive diagnostic keys to the genera;

  • Phylogenies produced during these revisions will be used to test adaptational and biogeographical hypotheses within the families, e.g., trends in ecomorphology or life history and Gondwana distribution patterns;

  • Develop molecular markers (‘barcodes’) to assist with identifying females and immatures.

Specimen Documentation, Storage and Archiving:

  • Gather geographical coordinates and elevation of collection localities with portable Garmin® GPS devices, along with other data (locality, collector, date, habitat, collection method), habitat and habitus photos;

  • Deposit type material in institutions in the country of origin and synoptic collections of nontype material in US and foreign collections;

  • Deposit tissue samples (for storage in liquid nitrogen at -150°C) in the Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research (

Museum Collections:

  • Borrow or examine in situ type and non-type specimens from the world’s major collections (Fig. 2) and database this material to:

    • enable assessment of geographical variation and determination of characters consistent across the range of each morphospecies;

    • facilitate identification of autapomorphies or unique diagnostic character combinations (for species delimitation) and synapomorphies (for phylogenetic analysis);

    • provide an accurate idea of past and present distributions by documenting known locality records.

Databasing, Georeferencing and Mapping:

  • Database and georeference an estimated 18,000 specimen-lots (Fig. 2) from the world’s museums (newly collected material will be databased and georeferenced upon acquisition, and previously databased museum material.

  • Capture collection data in a customized, Darwin Core-compliant specimen database developed at the AMNH for an NSF-funded PBI: Miridae project, maintained on the AMNH server (

  • Provide online interactive mapping of distributions via the specimen database, using tools developed by the team at Discover Life (

Imaging of Type Specimens:

  • Image type specimens and capture collection data, using the online database and a portable Nikon microscope and associated digital camera;

  • Photograph habitus (dorsal and ventral), flagellum, genital operculum, ctenidia, and other characters for producing and documenting the morphological data matrix for phylogenetic analysis.



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The material included on this poster is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants 0640245 and 0640219. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.