New reportings of Habronattus waughi (Emerton 1926) (Araneae : Salticidae) in Quebec
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Abstract. Habronattus waughi is documented from three sites in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. A total of 16 specimens were collected from Sept-Îles, Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie and Pointe-des-Monts. Identification of the species was done based on published descriptions, comparison to other species of Habronattus found in the province, and confirmed by W.P. Maddison, an authority on the genus. The species’ connection to a specific kind of grass, as well as its habit of nesting in sand are noted. Photographs of male representatives of the five Habronattus species found in Quebec are presented to facilitate identification in the field. Habronattus waughi has also been documented near Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec and Iroquois Falls, Ontario. This suggests a widespread presence across Quebec.
Keywords. Salticinae, Plexippini, jumping spider, Sept-Îles, sandy habitat, microhabitat.
Résumé. Habronattus waughi est rapporté dans trois sites de la région de la Côte-Nord du Québec. Un total de 16 spécimens a été récolté à Sept-Îles, Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie et Pointe-des-Monts. L'identification de l'espèce a été effectuée sur la base des descriptions publiées, de la comparaison avec les autres espèces d'Habronattus connues dans la province, et confirmée par W.P. Maddison, une autorité pour ce genre. L'association de l'espèce à un type spécifique de plante, ainsi que son habitude de nicher dans le sable sont notées. Des photos des mâles des cinq espèces d'Habronattus connues au Québec sont présentées pour faciliter l'identification sur le terrain. Habronattus waughi a été récolté près du Lac Saint-Jean au Québec et Iroquois Falls en Ontario. Ces mentions suggèrent une vaste répartition à travers le Québec.
Mots clés. Salticinae, Plexippini, jumping spider, Sept-Îles, habitat sablonneux, microhabitat.
The genus Habronattus F.O. Pickard-Cambridge 1901 currently consists of 106 species, five of which can be found in Quebec (World Spider Catalog 2021). This genus, commonly called “paradise spiders”, are known for their elaborate ornamentation and courtship displays (Peckham & Peckham 1890, Maddison 2017). Members of the large genus were originally split by Griswold (1987) into smaller groups of closely related species based on genitalia, courtship ornamentation, and other shared morphological characteristics. Many of these groups have been supported by more recent mitochondrial and nuclear data (Maddison & Hedin 2003).
The five species of Habronattus found in Quebec (Paquin & Dupérré 2003) fall into 4 groups;
1. americanus group - H. waughi
2. coecatus group - H. borealis
3. decorus group - H. decorus
4. viridipes group - H. viridipes and H. calcaratus maddisoni.
First collected in Sept-Îles in 1924 and described by Emerton in 1926, Habronattus waughi is the only member of the americanus group found on the east coast of North America (Griswold 1987). Although first discovered in Quebec, the species has not been documented in the province since. Other than the descriptions by Emerton (1926) and Griswold (1987), and the few photographs taken by W.P. Maddison in New Brunswick (1979) and Ontario (1995), very little has been published on H. waughi (W.P. Maddison, personnal web site).
This paper documents the presence of H. waughi from three locations in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. Photographs of male representatives of the five species of Habronattus found in the province are also presented.
Habronattus waughi was originally discovered on the beach in Sept-Îles in August 1924. Griswold (1987) notes “sand dunes” as the habitat for the examined specimens collected from two locations in New Brunswick in 1977. Having been found on sand dunes in New Brunswick and again on sandy beaches in Ontario by W.P. Maddison (personal communication, July 25, 2021), our search focused on this type of habitat.
With the location and the species’ connection to sand in mind, we began our search on the first easily accessible beach in Sept-Îles. After our initial discovery of numerous Habronattus spiderlings measuring 2−3 mm, a connection between the species and a specific type of grass (possibly Ammophila breviligulata Fernald) was made. This aided us in finding other populations in Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie and Pointe-des-Monts (fig. 1).
No equipment was used in the search, however a sieve could be used in the future in order to find spiders nesting in the sand. The spiders were found by eye and collected alive in plastic vials before being photographed. All pictures were taken in a studio setup, using a piece of white acrylic as the background, or in a more natural setting using sand and dried grass from the collection sites.
Although observation of male and female genitalia is the surest way to identify a species, male Habronattus are often easy to tell apart. As the five species of Habronattus present in Quebec belong to four different groups, they are easily differentiated based on visible morphological differences. This makes identification via photographs or live specimens very easy, as shown in figure 2.
A total of 16 H. waughi were caught across all three sites; 12 spiderlings, 2 larger juveniles and 2 subadult males. Numerous spiderlings measuring 2-3mm, as shown in figure 3, were observed on the sand in all three locations. Twelve were collected; 8 from Sept-Îles, 2 from Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie and 2 from Pointe-des-Monts. Two juveniles and a subadult male were also collected on the beach near a campsite at Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie. The 2 juveniles, measuring around 4mm, were both found nesting. One was found in a piece of tree bark on the sand and the other in the sand at the base of some dry grass. Another subadult male was collected from a sandy area on the side of the road in Pointe-des-Monts (fig. 4). Initial identifications of the spiders were based on geographic location and the presence of orange/red scales around the eyes, as well as the white scales on the clypeus and side of the cephalothorax. These characteristics are mentioned in previous published descriptions of the male and subadult female (Emerton 1926, Griswold 1987). As shown in figure 3a, the red/orange scales around the eyes are already visible in the young spiderlings. This tentative identification was then confirmed by Wayne P. Maddison (personal communication, August 3, 2021). One of the subadult males was raised to adulthood in order to be photographed and further support the identification (fig. 5–6). An attempt was made to raise the 12 spiderlings and 2 juveniles in order to document all life stages, a female, and the courtship display of the male. This attempt, however, was unsuccessful.
THCC: Tiziano Hurni-Cranston Collection (Montreal).
Habronattus waughi (Salticidae)
CANADA: Québec: Sept-Rivières: Sept-Îles: [50.2161, -66.4048] 02.viii.2021, 8 spiderlings, sandy beach, collected by hand, T. Hurni-Cranston & T. Broening (THCC) • 15 km est of Sept-Îles, Coude-de-la-Rivière-Moisie: [50.2676, -66.0349] 03.viii.2021, 1 subadult male, 2 juveniles and 2 spiderlings sandy beach, collected by hand, T. Hurni-Cranston & T. Broening (THCC) • Pointe-des-Monts: [49.3199, -67.3864] 03.viii.2021, 1 subadult male and 2 spiderlings, sandy beach, collected by hand, T. Hurni-Cranston & T. Broening (THCC).
Habronattus waughi is easy to differentiate from other species in the province due to the presence of red/orange ocular scales at all life stages. This is a useful morphological feature for identification purposes as the abdominal markings of the young spiderlings closely resemble those of Habronattus decorus (Blackwall 1846) spiderlings, as shown in figure 7. Although confusion between the two species is unlikely, given that H. decorus aren’t usually found as far north, populations of the two species could overlap near Lac Saint-Jean.
As the H. waughi spiderlings mature, the black abdominal markings become more pronounced and fuse together, resembling those of the subadults. At this point, the markings on the cephalothorax, not visible in the young spiderlings, become apparent. None of the spiderlings collected reached maturity, therefore a description of all life stages isn’t possible here.
As the larger juveniles closely resembled the subadults, any molts in between aren’t likely to be significant in terms of change in coloration or pattern. As is the case with most species of salticidae, the male’s final molt is the most extreme. The black markings on the abdomen fuse further, leaving only two thin, lighter patches in the center. The cephalothorax, having lost both the brown markings on the top and most of the white scales along the sides, is now mostly black. One of the most obvious changes however, is the amount of orange scales surrounding the males eyes. These orange scales are even more striking given the contrast with the whitish, scale covered clypeus. Adult male H. waughi also have a patch of black setae on the tarsus of their front legs, a trait found in all males of the americanus group.
The connection between H. waughi and sand has already been documented, but a connection between the species and a specific type of grass is worth noting. In all three locations searched in the Côte-Nord region, H. waughi was only found in sandy habitats with the presence of grass that resembled A. breviligulata.
The species’ habit of nesting in the sand, just under the surface, is also worth noting. When kept in captivity, none of the specimens constructed nests until either sand or dried grass was added to their enclosures. Nests were then constructed either under the surface, usually where the grass came in contact with the sand, or hidden among the dried grass. The nests hidden in the sand were barely visible from the surface. Using a sieve during future searches will most likely increase the number of spiders found, especially nesting females.
Habronattus waughi was found in abundance at three separate sites in the Côte-Nord region, spanning 150km. This, along with a recent photograph posted on social media of a male from Lac Saint-Jean suggest a widespread presence of the species in Quebec, with a recorded range of 500km. Given the species presence near Iroquois Falls, Ontario (W.P. Maddison, personal communication, April 5th 2022), the probable range of the species in Quebec could be over 1000km, possibly spanning the entire province. The low frequency of reported sightings are most likely due to a lack of research in these areas, as locating the spiders proved to be easy.
Further research into the range of the species could prove to be interesting. Using our current knowledge of their habitat, probable locations for future research have already been identified near Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Other possible locations, some as far down as Lake Erie, have been located. However, this is well below the documented range of the species.
I would like to thank Pierre Paquin for prompting me to conduct this search and for his review of the text. I am also thankfull to Donald J. Buckle for his review. I would also like to thank Wayne P. Maddison for his useful insight on locating H. waughi as well as for his aid in identifying collected specimens.
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Maddison WP. 1995. Habronattus waughi [Photographs of spiders]. Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from http://salticidae.org/salticidImages/pages/usacanada/images253.html.
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World Spider Catalog, Version 23.0, visited on the 23rd August 2021. https://wsc.nmbe.ch/