Mgr. Pavel Just
RNDr. Petr Dolejš, Ph.D.
Věra Opatová
Species-specific patterns of courtship behaviour are often used in wolf spider species delimitation. However, differences in courtship patterns are rarely assessed in an evolutionary context. The wolf spider genus Alopecosa comprises 150 species, for which the distribution and mating periods commonly overlap. We analysed the courtship and copulatory behaviour of 14 European Alopecosa species that are traditionally classified into four sibling species complexes (groups) and sequenced one mitochondrial (COI) and two nuclear genes (28S, H3) to reconstruct their phylogenetic relationships. The courtship behaviour of Alopecosa wolf spiders includes 17 elements, involving palpal, pedal, opisthosomal and whole-body movements. The observed courtship and copulation behaviours exhibit both conserved elements and species-specific combinations of traits. The results of the phylogenetic analyses were largely incongruent with the traditional, morphology-based grouping. Species from the ‘pulverulenta’ group formed a monophylum, although members of the ‘striatipes’ and ‘fabrilis’ groups were recovered as para- or polyphyletic. Furthermore, monophyly of Alopecosa was not recovered. We provide a checklist of species-specific traits presented during courtship and copulation that can be used to identify sibling species complexes.


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