Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Thomas C Jones

Committee Members

Thomas F. Laughlin, Karl H. Joplin, Foster Levy


Anelosimus studiosus exhibits two behavioral phenotypes: subsocial and social. This is the only documented spider inhabiting a temperate climate exhibiting social behavior. While the subsocial phenotype is most common throughout the range, the social behavior occurs in isolated pockets in northern latitudes. This study examines the origins of the social phenotype within a segment of the spider's range. Two hypotheses are tested: 1) pockets of social behavior represent a single origin or 2) pockets of social behavior represent local evolutions, thus leading to multiple origins of evolution. Microsatellite loci were used to determine genetic structure of the population and to estimate the origins of social behavior. All loci showed lower observed than expected heterozygosities and all populations show indications of high levels of inbreeding. A phylogeny indicates four of the six populations fall out by location, not phenotype. We propose these results reflect multiple local evolutions of the social strategy.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.