Aim The distributions of Chinese spiders are used to form biotic regions and to infer biogeographical patterns.
Methods China was initially divided into 294 quadrats of 2° latitude by 2° longitude. The distributions of 958 species of spiders were summarized for each quadrat. Subsequently, these quadrats were pooled into 28 areas based on topographical characteristics and to a lesser extent on the distributions of spiders. Parsimony analysis of endemicity (PAE) was used to classify the 28 areas based on the shared distributional patterns of spiders.
Results China was found to have seven major biogeographical regions based on the distributional patterns of spiders: Western Northern region (clade B2: Tibetan Plateau and Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang subregions), Central Northern region (clade B3), Eastern Northern region (clade B4), Central region (clade C2), Eastern Southern region (clade C3), Western Southern region (clade C4), and Central Southern region (clade C5).
Main conclusions The distributional patterns of Chinese spiders correspond broadly to geological provinces. A comparison of the geological provinces and the distributional patterns of spiders reveals that the spiders occur south of the geological provinces. Furthermore, a general biogeographical classification with five natural areas is suggested as follows: Tibetan Plateau, Central Northern, Eastern Northern, Western Northern (excluding Tibetan Plateau), and Southern regions.