Amin al-Jamal

San Francisco State University

“Spiders of the Spiny Forest – The Dictynidae senu latu Spider Diversity of Madagascar (Araneae)”

Spiders are amongst the planet’s most ubiquitous and diverse arthropod predators, but despite this, their diversity remains understudied. The mesh-web weavers of Dictynidae, are of particular interest for their diverse (sometimes extreme) life histories and cosmopolitan distribution. One major challenge for this group’s taxonomy has been the overrepresentation of species documented from the Northern Hemisphere and South America, and the underrepresentation of documentation from Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and much of the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. My research aims to tackle that issue by describing numerous new species from Madagascar, leveraging the island’s magnificent biodiversity and propensity for endemism to test our emerging framework of the mesh-web weavers. I will use molecular phylogenetic methods alongside morphology to fit the new taxa into the larger phylogeny. Ultimately, I hope to create a superfamily-level key to all known Madagascan taxa within the group.


Amin al-Jamal is a graduate student working in the Esposito Arachnology Lab at the California Academy of Sciences. His work revolves around the taxonomy and evolution of small mesh-web weaving spiders from Madagascar, Australia, and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere. He is primarily a traditional morphologist, using imaging and scientific illustration to describe species and help uncover the tremendous biodiversity of this group

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