Summary for Eratigena atrica (Araneae)
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About this speciesRecorded altitude range
0m to 175m
Bolzern et al. (2013) proposed that Tegenaria atrica, T. saeva and T. gigantea (= T. duellica) should be placed in a new genus, Eratigena (together with T. agrestis and T. picta amongst British spiders). They further proposed that E. atrica, E. saeva and E. gigantea represented just one species, E. atrica. While the transfer to a new genus is justified, the collapse of the three species into one is definitely not (see Oxford & Bolzern 2018 for details).
For a long while, T. atrica was thought to occur in Britain solely as a result of occasional imports. In 2009, however, Smith & Oxford (2009) reported a self-sustaining population in Burnopfield, Co. Durham. Subsequent surveys revealed a very large population of this species spread across some 700 square kilometres centred on Newcastle upon Tyne (Oxford & Smith 2014). The Newcastle population almost certainly originated from spiders accidental imported during Victorian times (Hull 1896). Other populations may yet be discovered. The species is widespread across the whole of continental Europe (Maurer 1992) and is common in the Irish Republic, but not Northern Ireland (Oxford & Chesney 1994). This curious distribution is probably a result of historical human importation into the Irish Republic from continental Europe.
Habitat and ecology
The habitat and ecology of this species seems to be identical to that of T. gigantea and T. saeva (q.v.).
Older records may refer to T. saeva/gigantea - the naming of these species has, historically, been rather fluid. In Britain, odd specimens are occasionally found in locations such as garden centres and post offices, which suggest recent importation from Ireland or the continent.
Author of profile: Geoff Oxford.
Bolzern, A., Burckhardt, D. & Hänggi, A. 2013. Phylogeny and taxonomy of European funnel-web spiders of the Tegenaria-Malthonica complex (Araneae: Agelenidae) based upon morphological and molecular data. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 168: 723–848.
Hull, J. E. 1896. Catalogue of the spiders (Araneidea) of Northumberland and Durham. Trans. nat. Hist. Soc. Northumb. 13: 57–107.
Maurer R. 1992. Checkliste der Europäischen Agelenidae nach der Roewerschen Systematik. 1954 – unter Berücksichtigung Angrenzender Östlicher Gebiete 1: 1–28. Holderbank, Switzerland. Privately published.
Oxford, G. S. & Bolzern, A. 2018. Molecules v. morphology – is Eratigena atrica (Araneae: Agelenidae) one species or three? Arachnology 17: 337–357.
Oxford, G. S. & Chesney, H. C. G. 1994. Large house spiders Tegenaria spp. in Northern Ireland: previously overlooked species or recent introductions. Ir. Nat. J. 24: 354–357.
Oxford, G. S. & Smith, C. D. 2014. Distributions of species in the Tegenaria atrica group (Araneae: Agelenidae) in north-east England: chance, contingency and priority. Arachnology 16: 145–153.
Smith, D. & Oxford, G. 2009. An established Tegenaria atrica (Agelenidae) population in mainland Britain: a possible case of competitive exclusion in large house spiders. Newsl. Br. arachnol. Soc. 116: 4–5. References
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