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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Ecology and Evolution of Hawaiian Spider Communities

The diversification of Hawaiian spiders illustrates universal principles behind community assembly on evolutionary and ecological scales

Rosemary Gillespie

Figure 1. Baby Tetragnatha spiders...Click to Enlarge Image

Evolutionary biologists and ecologists explain the way species are assembled in biological communities quite differently. Studies of the spiny-legged spider (Tetragnatha spp.) in Hawaii support the idea that this contention may result from the time scales on which scientists have worked. The basic ecological and evolutionary processes that generate diversity and underlie community assembly are the same: New species enter a community by colonization or evolution, species accumulate, and the assemblage approaches equilibrium with particular sets of species. In Hawaii, geology and biology have interacted to produce a fascinating diversity of spiders that provide an elegant illustration of these principles.


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