Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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Compiler and date details

30 March 2006 - Valerie Todd Davies (1984, including the Lycosidae by R.J. McKay); B.J. Richardson & Marek Zabka (Salticidae); Robert J. Raven (2006, updated and expanded); Nephila updated May 2008


The first catalogue of Australian spiders, A Census of Australian Araneidae, was compiled by W.J. Rainbow (1911). Since then three catalogues of spider species of the world have been published. Two of these, P. Bonnet's Bibliographia Araneorum (1945–1961) and C.F. Roewer's Katalog der Araneae (1942, 1954) were published concurrently. The third and supplementary catalogue, P.M. Brignoli's A Catalogue of the Araneae described between 1940 and 1981 (1983) lists most species which have been described since publication of the previous two works. A short catalogue of the spiders of Tasmania, listing 86 araneomorph species, was compiled by A. Musgrave (1948). Arachnologists, especially taxonomists, are fortunate to have these catalogues as working tools. Despite their existence, however, it seems reasonable to compile a new catalogue of Australian spiders which will be readily accessible to students. As well as synonymies, this catalogue contains details of designation and location of type specimens, distribution of species within Australia and references to biological literature; information is also given on species described between 1981 and April 1984.

Thirty-seven of the 60 known Australian araneomorph spider families are listed. These are: Anapidae, Anyphaenidae, Archaeidae, Cryptothelidae, Cyatholipidae, Deinopidae, Dysderidae, Filistatidae, Gradungulidae, Hadrotarsidae, Hahniidae, Hersiliidae, Hickmaniidae, Holarchaeidae, Loxoscelidae, Lycosidae (data prepared by R.J. McKay), Micropholcommatidae, Mimetidae, Mysmenidae, Nicodamidae, Oecobiidae, Oonopidae, Orsolobidae, Pararchaeidae, Pholcidae, Pisauridae, Psechridae, Scytodidae, Segestriidae, Selenopidae, Symphytognathidae, Tetrablemmidae, Textricellidae, Theridiosomatidae, Uloboridae, Zodariidae and Zoridae. For the most part they are small and well-defined families. In many instances researchers in other countries have carried out familial or generic revisions (sometimes including Australian spiders), and they have up-dated diagnoses of many of these families. Although those listed here represent more than half the families in Australia they contain only about 30% of the described species.

Eighteen families, representing approximately 70% of the described species, have not been included in the catalogue. They are: Amaurobiidae, Araneidae, Clubionidae, Ctenidae, Cycloctenidae, Dictynidae, Gnaphosidae, Heteropodidae, Linyphiidae, Metidae, Miturgidae, Oxyopidae, Philodromidae, Salticidae, Tetragnathidae, Theridiidae, Thomisidae and Toxopidae. There are several reasons, apart from the magnitude of the work, why they are not included here. Some (Araneidae, Salticidae, Theridiidae and Thomisidae) contain large numbers of species and are in great need of revision, e.g. within the Araneidae about one hundred Araneus spp. are listed which, after revision, are likely to be allocated to several genera. As well, the major sub-divisions within these world-wide families still are to be resolved; some of these may lead to the erection of further families. Amaurobiids (sensu lato) are very well represented in Australia, especially in temperate rainforest. The few described genera are difficult to relate to one another or to place confidently in a sub-family or family, despite the recent revisions of Lehtinen (1967), Forster (1970) and Forster & Wilton (1973). The claw-tufted families, Clubionidae and Gnaphosidae, currently are receiving attention from researchers in the U.S.A. When their diagnoses of families, sub-families and genera become available a catalogue of Australian species in these families will be more meaningful. Spiders in the families Toxopidae and Cycloctenidae are difficult to separate at present, but it is hoped that clear diagnoses will emerge as more of these spiders are described.

There are a further five araneomorph families that are represented in Australia though no species have been described. These are: Stenochilidae, Nesticidae, Ochyroceratidae, Periegopidae and Agelenidae (sensu Forster), Colopea sp. (Stenochilidae) and Nesticella sp. have been collected from Iron Range, near the tip of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Ochyroceratids are found in the litter of rainforests in north Queensland. Periegops sp. has been collected in southeastern Queensland–previously the genus was known only from New Zealand. Agelenids have been found in Tasmania and are probably more widely distributed.

Many spider families still are diagnosed inadequately and there is no universal agreement as to the number of families in the world. In some measure this is due to the relatively small number of spiders, particularly in the southern continents, that are described. In Australia for example it is estimated that probably less than 20% of the existing species have been described, which means that at present we have only a skeletal outline of our spider fauna.

Taxonomy of Australia's spiders began when Fabricius described Gasteracantha fornicata in 1775. The spider was collected, probably by Banks or Solander, during the time that Captain Cook's vessel, Endeavour was beached for repairs at Cooktown in 1770. This is the only description of a spider to precede European settlement of Australia at Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1778. In 1790 John White, the surgeon-general to the colony, produced his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales in which he described and figured, but did not name, two spiders: one small and unidentifiable, the other a large sparassid or huntsman.

The second spider to be described and named was Nephila edulis by Labillardière (1799) a botanist who accompanied the French admiral, D'Entrecasteaux on his voyage to Australia. In 1802, the naturalists Péron and Lesueur, who accompanied Baudin to Australia, collected extensively. Unfortunately, little of this material has been described Delena cancerides, Missulena occatoria (a trap-door spider) and Storena cyanea, described by Walckenaer (1805), were probably from this collection. Quoy and Gaimard (1825) described and figured Dolophones notacantha; they were surgeon-naturalists on board Freycinet's vessel l'Uranie during its exploratory journey to the Pacific in 1819–1920. W.S. MacLeay (1827) described 4 spiders: Nephila cunninghamii, later recognised by Dahl (1912) as a synonym of N. plumipes (Latreille 1804); Uloborus canus, recognised by Walckenaer (1837) as probably being a philodromid; Linyphia deplanata, regarded by Walckenaer (1841) as unidentifiable and Thomisus morbillosus which MacLeay later (1839) transferred to Olios, remarking at the time that 'the type of this genus is Aranea venatoria Linnaeus' (=Heteropoda venatoria). The descriptions are of two or three lines each and provide no localities. As no spiders belonging to any of the last three species have been identified since their description and the types are lost, there appears to be a good case for the eventual suppression of these names. Between 1860–1875 more collections were made, mostly from areas near the ports of the eastern coast of Australia, and these form the basis of L. Koch's (1871–1883) Die Arachniden Australiens which was completed by Keyserling, who later added a Supplement (1884–1890). These volumes are illustrated beautifully and are still the standard taxonomic work on Australian spiders. Thorell (1881) described, but did not illustrate, 47 species from Cape York Peninsula. Simon (1908, 1909) described the spiders collected by the Michaelsen and Hartmeyer Expedition to Southwest Australia and Strand (1913) described those from the Leonhardi expedition to Central Australia. The types of nearly all these spiders, where they still exist, are in European museums.

Between 1893 and 1920, W.J. Rainbow, an Englishman who was the Entomologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney, contributed greatly to the knowledge of Australian spiders. He produced over 50 papers, describing some 200 spiders, and in 1911 published the catalogue A Census of Australian Araneidae in which he listed 1102 araneomorph species. Included were 76 species described by H.R. Hogg, an Englishman who was engaged in commerce in Melbourne between 1873–1892. While in Australia he developed an interest in spiders and when he returned to England to live he took back with him a collection of spiders and worked on them (and other Australian collections) at the British Museum. Emeritus Professor V.V. Hickman, Professor of Zoology at the University of Tasmania until his retirement in 1959, has been a major contributor to Australian spider taxonomy since 1926 and is Australia's foremost araneologist. He is known best for his papers on minute litter spiders for which he established three families, Symphytognathidae, Textricellidae and Micropholcommatidae; he also established the Toxopidae. Professor V.V. Hickman died in Hobart, Tasmania on 20 November 1984.

There have been few revisions of Australian araneomorph families. Hogg's (1903) paper on the heteropodids (sparassids) is the only attempt made to revise this family. Dunn (1951) produced a key to Storena spp. and R.J. McKay, who has compiled data on Lycosidae in this catalogue, has written a series of papers on the family. The most important revision is that of the archaeids of the world by Forster and Platnick (1984) in which they establish two new Australasian families, Pararchaeidae and Holarchaeidae. Currently the same authors are revising the Orsolobidae and Anapidae. Heimer (pers. comm.) is redescribing and revising the Australian Mimetidae; Gray (pers. comm.) is redescribing and revising the Australian filistatids.

The families in this catalogue are arranged in alphabetical order and a short introduction to each family precedes the data for the species. It should be noted that these familial descriptions refer only to Australian spiders and may not hold true for spiders from other parts of the world. Arachnologists will be familiar with most of the terms used and only 'haplogyne' and 'entelegyne', as they refer to the structure of the female, are defined. 'Haplogyne' refers to those spiders which have one duct for both insemination and fertilisation. Their genital region usually is unsclerotised and sperm is introduced via the uterus externus and spermathecal ducts (sometimes just the neck of the spermathecae) to the spermathecae. 'Entelegyne' refers to females which have separate insemination and fertilisation ducts. The openings (gonopores) of the insemination ducts are on the sclerotised epigynum. These ducts lead to the spermathecae and from here fertilisation ducts convey sperm to the uterus. It is generally believed that the entelegyne condition has been derived from the haplogyne several times in spiders.

Information on the arrangement of the tracheae may be included in the introduction as sometimes it is considered to be phylogenetically important and is not always easy to find in the literature. The usual abbreviations for the eyes are used: ALE, AME, PLE and PME. The use of 'sedentary' in the ecological data indicates that the species spins a web for capture of prey; 'nomadic' is used to indicate that it does not. An asterisk indicates that the types have not been examined by the compiler. In the size-classes used the approximate total lengths are as follows: 'large' 8mm or more; 'medium' 4–8mm; 'small' 2–4mm; 'tiny' 1–2mm; 'minute' less than 1mm. This work does not pretend to be more than a catalogue of species, which by its nature and timing is an interim document. It is intended as a reference for Australian workers and should be used in conjunction with the world lists of Bonnet (1945–1961), Roewer (1942, 1954) and Brignoli (1983). .


1984 Catalogue
Financial support for two months was provided by the Australian Biological Resources Study to employ Anne Windsor as cataloguer. My assistant, Robert Raven helped un-ravel many nomenclatorial tangles and I am indebted to the authors of recent revisions for their diagnoses of several families. I am especially grateful to the Director and the Trustees of the Queensland Museum who allowed me to do this compilation as part of my curatorial work.

2006 Catalogue
Supported by a Grant to Robert Raven from Australian Biological Resources Study.

Database Notes

The information on the Australian Faunal Directory site for the Araneomorphae is derived in part from the work published on 9 September 1985 as (Davies, V.T., 1985), which was imported into the software programme Platypus. This has now been expanded and updated by Robert J. Raven, 2006.

Limital Area

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.


General References

Bonnet, P. 1945. Bibliographia Araneorum. Toulouse : Douladoure Vol. 2. [[1945–1961]] (-1961)

Brignoli, P.M. in Merret, P. (ed.) 1983. A Catalogue of Araneae described between 1940–1981. Manchester : Manchester University Press 755 pp.

Dahl, F. 1912. Seidenspinne und Spinnensiede. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 6: 1-90

Davies, V.T. 1985. Araneomorphae (in part). pp. 49-125 in Walton, D.W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol. 3 Mygalomorphae, Araneomorphae in part, Pseudoscorpionida, Amblypygi and Palpigradi. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 183 pp.

Dunn, R.A. 1951. Spiders of the Russell Grimwade Expedition. Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne 17: 9-18

Fabricius, J.C. 1775. Systema Entomologiae, sistens Insectorum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, adiectis Synonymis, Locis, Descriptionibus, Observationibus. Flensburgi et Lipsiae [= Flensburg & Leipzig] : Kortii xxxii 832 pp. [Date published 17 April] [431-439]

Forster, R.R. 1970. The spiders of New Zealand. Pt III. Otago Mus. Bull. No. 3. 184 pp.

Forster, R.R. & Platnick, N.I. 1984. A review of the archaeid spiders and their relatives, with notes on the limits of the Superfamily Palpimanoidea (Arachnida, Araneae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 178: 1-106

Forster, R.R. & Wilton, C.L. 1973. The spiders of New Zealand. Part IV. Otago Museum Bulletin. No. 4. 309 pp.

Heimer, S. 1986. Notes on the spider family Mimetidae with description of a new genus from Australia (Arachnida, Araneae). Entomologische Abhandlungen. Staatliches Museum für Tierkunde Dresden 49: 113-137

Heimer, S. 1999. Remarks on the spider genus Arcys Walckenaer, 1837, with description of new species. Entomol. Abh. Mus. Teirkd. Dresden.

Hogg, H.R. 1903. On the Australiasian spiders of the subfamily Sparassinae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1902(2): 414-466

Keyserling, E. 1890. Die Arachniden Australiens, nach der Natur beschrieben und abgebildet. Nürnberg : Bauer & Raspe Vol. 2 233-274 pp.

Koch, L. & Keyserling, E. 1873. Die Arachniden Australiens (1871–1883). Nürnberg : Bauer & Raspe 2 vols 1489 pp. 123 pls.

Labillardière, J. 1799. Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse, fait par ordre de l'Assemblée constituante. Paris Vol. 2 pp. 240-241.

Lehtinen, P.T. 1967. Classification of the cribellate spiders and some allied families, with notes on the evolution of the suborder Araneomorpha. Annales Zoologici Fennici 4: 199-468

Macleay, W.S. 1827. Annulosa. Catalogue of insects collected by Captain King, R.N. pp. 438-469 in King, P.P. (ed.). Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia Performed Between the Years 1818 and 1822 with an appendix containing various subjects relating to hydrography and natural history. London : John Murray Vol. 2 Appendix B 637 pp. [15 April 1826]

MacLeay, W.S. 1839. On some new forms of Arachnida. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2: 1-14

Musgrave, A. 1839. A catalogue of the spiders of Tasmania. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston 2: 75-91

Platnick, N.I. & Raven, R.J. 2013. Spider Systematics: Past and Future. Zootaxa 3683(5): 595–600

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1825. Zoologie. In, Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.). Voyage Autour du Monde, entrepris par orde du Roi, sous le Ministère et conformément aux instructions de S. Exc. M. le Vicomte de Boucharge, secrétaire d'État au Département de la Marine exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne, pendent les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820; publié sous les auspices de S.E.M. le Conte Corbière, secrétaire d'État de l'Intérieur, pour la partie historique et les sciences naturelles, et de S.E.M. le Marquis de Clermont-Tonnerre, Secrétaire d'État de la Marine et des Colonies, pour la partie nautique; par M. Louis Freycinet, etc. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 + atlas iv 712 pp. [96 pls]

Rainbow, W.J. 1911. A census of Australian Araneidae. Records of the Australian Museum 9(2): 107-319 [Vol 9 titled as published 1912-1913, but Part 2 published 2 Oct 1911]

Roewer, C.F. 1942. Katalog der Araneae. Bremen : Paul Budy Bd. 11–1040.

Roewer, C.F. 1954. Katalog der Araneae. Bruxelles : Inst. R. Sci. Nat. Belg. Bd. 2 (a,b) 1–1751.

Simon, E. 1908. Araneae. Pt 1. pp. 359-446 in Michaelsen, W. & Hartmeyer, R. (eds). Fauna Südwest-Australiens. 1(12). Jena : Fischer.

Simon, E. 1909. Araneae. Pt 2. pp. 155-212 in Michaelsen, W. & Hartmeyer, R. (eds). Die Fauna Südwest-Australiens. 2(13). Jena : Fischer.

Strand, E. 1913. Über einige Australische Spinnen des Senckenbergischen Museums. Zoologische Jahrbücher Syst. 35: 599-624

Thorell, T. 1881. Studi sui Ragni Malesi e Papuani III. Ragni dell'Austro Malesia e del Capo York, conservati nel Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genova 17: 1-727

Walckenaer, C.A. 1805. Tableau des Aranéides ou Caractères Essentiels des Tribus, Genres, Familles et Races que venforme le genre Aranea de Linné, avec la désignation des espèces comprises dans chacune de ces divisions. Paris : Dentu xii 88 pp. 9 pls.

Walckenaer, C.A. 1841. Histoire Naturelle des Insectes Aptères. 4 vols +atlas. Paris. [1837-1847]

White, J. 1790. Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, with sixty-five plates of non-descripted animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. Appendix. London : Debrett 299 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
07-Dec-2017 MODIFIED