Guarding by Males in the Opilionid Family Cranaidae

Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, Allan W. Hook


One of  the  most  abundant  and  common  arthropod groups found in tropical forests is the harvestmen, which are potentially useful indicator species (Wade et al. 2011). Of the four suborders of Opiliones, Laniatores is the most diverse, with 26 families and 3,700 species, most of which are found in the Southern Hemisphere. One of these families is the large-bodied Cranaidae (Machado and Warfel 2006), which has a range extending from “the northern region of South America along the Andes and Amazon Basin up to Panama and Venezuela” (Pinto-da-Rocha and Kury 2003). Phareicranaus calcariferus, formerly known as Santinezia serratobialis, was synonymised by Pinto-da-Rocha and Bonaldo (2011). It is the only species of cranaid found in Trinidad and Tobago, and is one of the most common species of harvestman on Trinidad (Machado and Warfel 2006). Parental care of offspring has been documented in all orders of arachnids (Mora 1990), with most species of harvestmen exhibiting maternal care (Machado and Macías-Ordóñez 2007). The superfamily Gonyleptoidea, which includes the Cranaidae, has been documented as containing nearly 80% of the total cases of maternal care reported in the order (Machado and Warfel 2006). The first reported observations of maternal care in the family Cranaidae were made in Trinidad (Machado and Warfel 2006; Hunter et al. 2007) and noted guarding of eggs and early nymphs. Little information on paternal care in these animals is known; it has been observed in relatively few species, including Zygopachylus albomarginis, which formerly was assigned to the family Gonyleptidae (Mora 1990) but which has been reassigned to the Manaosbiidae (Kury 2003), and P. calcariferus (Machado and Warfel 2006). The objective of this paper is to provide further insights into the association of nymphs and adult males of the harvestman P. calcariferus over an extended period of time.

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