Mon 04 Dec 2017: 2.00pm [QE] – Stephen Foley on “Understanding the evoluntionary patterns of modified macrosetae among tarantula spiders (Araneae: Theraphosidae) and their defensive functions”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

“Understanding the evoluntionary patterns of modified macrosetae among tarantula spiders (Araneae: Theraphosidae) and their defensive functions”

Speaker:             Stephen Foley (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:                  4 December 2017, Monday
Time:                  2pm
Venue:               DBS Conference room  (S3 Level 5, #05-01)
Supervisor:        Asst Prof Piel, William Halliday

Abstract: – Tarantulas (Araneae: Theraphosidae) are the most speciose group of mygalomorph spiders, with almost 1000 species having been formally described. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, and have evolved to live in a range of microhabitats. Of particular interest is their use of modified macrosetae, and the defensive functions of these setae. Some species can flick urticating hairs at potential predators, which often elicit immune responses. Others possess sets of modified setae which they can brush together to generate sound in a process known as stridulation. Many species can also be found in a myriad of different colors, with traditionally rare colors (such as blue) being relatively common among tarantulas. This is unusual given that they live in solitude and are presumed to have poor eyesight, so the functions of colored bristles remains unknown.

Hence, my research is focused on four main topics, those being: (i) the phylogenetic relationships among members of the group, (ii) reclassifying the bristles that are implicated in stridulation, (iii) whether or not the internal structure of modified bristles is conserved given the diverse range external bristle morphologies and functions, and (iv) the functions of colors in tarantulas, and whether there is any relationship between arboreality, sexually dimorphic coloration and crypsis.

All are welcome

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