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Keywords:

  • Darwinian islands;
  • dispersal;
  • vicariance;
  • Wallacean islands

We briefly review the potential history of Madagascar as either a Darwinian or a Wallacean island, summarize the phylogenetic evidence regarding the biogeography of Madagascar spiders, examine the dispersal history of the Madagascar Phyxelididae, and monograph the family in Madagascar. Molecular phylogenetic analyses for 32 Malagasy phyxelidid exemplars, nine confamilial outgroup taxa, and seven other more distant outgroups are performed for three nuclear markers and one mitochondrial genetic marker (28S, 18S, H3 and COI) utilizing Bayesian, maximum-likelihood and parsimony methods. These analyses suggest that there are 14 species of Phyxelididae that may be recognized from Madagascar, that these may be divided into three genera, and that the Malagasy phyxelidids form a monophyletic group, probably resulting from a single invasion of the island by an ancestor from Africa. Two new genera, ten new species, and two new combinations are proposed: Manampoka atsimo gen. nov., sp. nov.; Rahavavygen. nov., including R. ida sp. nov. and R. fanivelona (Griswold, 1990) comb. nov. and R. malagasyana (Griswold, 1990) comb. nov.; and Ambohima andrefana sp. nov., A. antsinanana sp. nov., A. avaratra sp. nov., A. maizina sp. nov., A. ranohira sp. nov., A. vato sp. nov., A. zandry sp. nov. and A. zoky sp. nov.

© 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 164, 728–810.