Charles E. Griswold
Curator of Arachnids and Myriapods. B.Sc (1972), M.Sc. (1977) and Ph.D.
(1983) University of California, Berkeley; Chairman, Department of Arachnology,
Natal Museum (1983-1986); Kalbfleisch Research Fellow, American Museum
of Natural History (1987-1988); Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow (1988-1991);
Research Entomologist, Smithsonian (1992); Assistant Curator, California
Academy of Sciences (1992-1994); Associate Curator (1994- ); Chairman,
Department of Entomology (1994-98); American Arachnological Society, Director
(1991-93); Centre International de Documentation Arachnologique: USA correspondent,
International Society of Arachnology (1992-), Vice President (1995-1998);
Society of Systematic Biology, Editorial Board (1992-1994); Willi Hennig
Society (Fellow, 1989-), Fellow, California Academy of Sciences.
Spiders are useful models for the study of evolution. Their webs, which
in some species combine several kinds of silk having radically different
properties, serve as tangible records of their behavior. Spider venoms
are diverse, and typically have highly specific effects on the nervous
systems of their victims, making venoms useful tools for students of neurophysiology.
Spiders were among the first animals to emerge from the sea, and their
ancient lineages may preserve biogeographic patterns that reflect the
climates, ecology, and geography of the past. Their evolution can be understood
through phylogenetics, that branch of the science of Systematics concerned
with discovering and summarizing the pattern of evolutionary history and
common ancestry among species, expressed as a cladogram (a genealogy of
species). My research uses phylogenetics, particularly toward answering
the questions: How many spider species are there? How, where and when
did they evolve? How are their behaviors adaptive? Why do they live where
they live (and not where they don't)?
Classification. -- As a graduate student at Berkeley I studied Habronattus,
a genus of small, graceful jumping spiders with nearly 100 species in
North America. Then I turned my attention to the higher classification
of major groups of spiders, including the Haplogynae (including the common
daddy-long-legs spiders and the dreaded brown recluse), Lycosoidea (wolf
spiders and their kin), and Orbiculariae (orb-web builders and descendants),
the latter study encompassing some of the largest and smallest of spiders
and including the common garden spiders and black widows. I am currently
working on the classification of all true spiders (Araneomorphae) focussing
on the most primitive members of major groups. This work utilizes data
from my fieldwork in North and South America, Eurasia, Africa, Australia
and New Zealand. I am also monographing the Cyatholipidae, which are sheet
web builders from Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, and the Zorocratidae,
which are ambushers and running hunters from Africa, south Asia, and South
America, and Migidae (tree trap door spiders) from Madagascar.
Historical Biogeography. -- Insofar as earth and life have evolved together,
the phylogenetic relationships among species should reflect the history
of the ecosystems in which they occur. This is particularly true in the
case of islands. I concentrate on African "forest islands:"
moist montane habitats that differ dramatically from the surrounding hot
or dry lowlands yet are similar to one another though separated by hundreds
to thousands of kilometers. I have classified the spiders that occur only
in such habitats (endemics), and in the course of these studies I have
described more than a dozen new genera and more than 100 new species.
By integrating the shared information among these classifications, I am
proposing a cladogram for these forest islands. My results to date suggest
that these forests are ancient, and resilient.
Web Evolution. -- The phylogenetic study of Orbiculariae (orb web builders)
revealed that beautiful, conspicuous, symmetrical org is a primitive web
type that has evolved down several paths through specialization and simplification
into sheets, cobwebs, and other architechtures that are easily concealed.
Biodiversity. -- Quantitative sampling methods to estimate total species
richness of an area play an important role in research on the global loss
of biodiversity. Working with an international team of arachnologists
I have sampled and compared spider species richness in forests in Europe,
South America, Africa and Madagascar with the goal of compiling a world
map of spider species richness.
Behavioral Ecology. -- In addition to my systematic work, I have carried
out field studies on the natural history and behavioral ecology of insects
and spiders, including African social spiders (Stegodyphus) and their
social parasites (kleptoparasites), and of tropical American spider-hunting
wasps (Trypoxylon, Sphecidae).
Griswold, C. E. & R. E. Coville. 1986. Observations on the prey and
nesting biology of spider-hunting wasps of the genus Trypoxylon
(Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) in Costa Rica. Proceedings of the IX
International Congress of Arachnology (Panama 1983), pp. 113-116.
Griswold, C. E. 1987a. A revision of the jumping spider genus Habronattus
F. O. P. Cambridge (Araneae: Salticidae), with phenetic and cladistic
analyses. University of California Publications in Entomology,
107: i-ix, 1-344.
Griswold, C. E. 1987b. The African members of the trap-door spider family
Migidae (Araneae: Mygalomorphae), I: The genus Moggridgea O. P.
Cambridge, 1875. Annals of the Natal Museum, 28: 1-118.
Griswold, C. E. & T. Meikle Griswold. 1987. Archaeodictyna ulova
new species, (Araneae: Dictynidae), a remarkable kleptoparasite of group-living
eresid spiders (Stegodyphus spp., Araneae: Eresidae). American
Museum Novitates, 2897: 1-11.
Griswold, C. E. 1991. Cladistic Biogeography of Afromontane Spiders.
Australian Systematic Botany, 4(1): 73-89.
Coddington, J. A., C. E. Griswold, D. Silva-Dávila, E. Peñaranda,
and S. Larcher. 1991. Designing and testing sampling protocols to estimate
biodiversity in tropical ecosystems. Pp. 44-60 In: Dudley, E. C.,
(ed.) The Unity of Evolutionary Biology. Proceedings of the Fourth
International Congress of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology. Dioscorides
Press: Portland, Ore.
Griswold, C. E. 1993. Investigations into the phylogeny of the Lycosoid
spiders and their kin (Arachnida, Araneae, Lycosoidea). Smithsonian
Contributions to Zoology, 539: 1--39.
Griswold, C., J. Coddington, G. Hormiga, and N. Scharff. 1998. Phylogeny
of the orb web building spiders (Araneae, Orbicularae: Deinopoidea, Araneoidea).
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 122: 1-99.
Griswold, C., J. Coddington, N. Platnick, and R. Forster. (in press).
Towards a phylogeny of entelegyne spiders (Araneae, Opisthothele, Araneomorphae).
Journal of Arachnology 27.