Pochyta Simon, 1901

Wesołowska, Wanda & Szűts, Tamás, 2021, A revision of the genus Pochyta Simon, with descriptions of new species (Araneae: Salticidae: Thiratoscirtina), Zootaxa 5052 (1), pp. 1-41 : 3-4

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Pochyta Simon, 1901


Genus Pochyta Simon, 1901

Pochyta Simon 1901b: 567 ; Simon 1903c: 740.

Type species: Pochyta spinosa Simon, 1901 , by subsequent designation.

Relationships. Originally Simon (1901b) placed the genus Pochyta in the Saiteae group of species, but later transferred it to the Plexippeae group ( Simon 1903b) and defined Pochyta by comparison with the genus Thiratoscirtus Simon, 1886 , putting emphasis on the spination of the anterior pair of legs. Maddison et al. (2008) illustrated P. pannosa and placed it close to Bacelarella Berland & Millot, 1941 and Nimbarus Rollard & Wesołowska, 2002 based on a molecular phylogeny. Bodner & Maddison (2012) had a much larger taxon selection in their phylogenetic analysis when establishing the subtribe Thiratoscirtina : seven terminals were assigned to Pochyta ( P. pannosa , P. pulchra , P. fastibilis , and four others with code names). In their analyses, Pochyta was sister to the Bacelarella ‘pavida’ group (i.e. in all genes / ML and Bayesian), and a species called MRB212 / ThirGroup ItataLike (‘elongate foliage’) together with P. fastibilis . However, in their final, dated tree the genus was marked monophyletic ( Bodner & Maddison 2012). Interestingly, species ‘MRB212’ has four pairs of spines on the first tibia, but only two pairs on the metatarsus (see http://salticidae.org/salticidImages/pages/africa/images/image52164.html). Thus, we did not consider it as belonging to Pochyta . Species of the Bacelarella ‘pavida’ group all have dense hair (vs sparse hair in Pochyta ) and only three pairs of spines on the first tibia and two pairs on the first metatarsus. Clearly the details of the genus’ phylogeny need further exploration, but for now we used the tree in Bodner & Maddison (2012: fig. 8) as our working hypothesis.

The placement of Pochyta in Thiratoscirtina is unequivocally supported by all the analyses. The subtribe includes currently 18 genera (sensu Maddison 2015a, see Metzner 2020), with large number of species distributed in Africa only. Bodner & Maddison (2012) diagnosed the thiratoscirtines and provided support for their monophyly based on molecular data. A putative morphological synapomorphy for the thiratoscirtines is presence of a retrolateral spine (or spines) on the palpal tarsus in females and the elongated third femur in both sexes.

Diagnosis. Simon (1901b) defined the genus Pochyta by the spination of leg I, namely the presence of four pairs of very long and sharp macrosetae on the ventral surface of tibia and three pairs on metatarsus. As the copulatory organs vary considerably in Pochyta , such spination remains the most characteristic and diagnostic feature of this genus.

Description. Small to medium spiders, ranging from about 3.5 to 7.5 mm in length. Carapace oval, high (highest at last row of eyes), with steep posterior slope. Eyes surrounded by black rings, anterior median eyes large, eye field trapezoid, anterior row of eyes slightly wider than the posterior row. Fovea visible, sulciform. Clypeus vertical, low. Chelicerae unidentati, large and long, fang in the majority species short, but in some males long, modified. Retromarginal tooth usually long, promarginal teeth often separated. Female chelicerae smaller. Endites slightly convergent. Labium trapezoid. Sternum shield-shaped. Pedicel short, not visible in dorsal view. Abdomen ovoid, narrower than carapace in males. Abdominal dorsum usually with median light serrated streak. Legs subequal, anterior pair usually longer than others, especially in males. First leg with four pairs of extremely long spines on tibia ventrally and three pairs on metatarsus. Additional short and thinner setae on both lateral sides of these segments, single short seta on prolateral side of patella. Spination of leg I in female similar. Female palp with single retrolateral spine on tarsus. Structure of genitalia very diverse.

Composition. A total 12 valid species are now included in Pochyta , of which seven are described herein as new. For four species only one sex is known.

Distribution. The members of Pochyta are mainly distributed in western equatorial Africa. The range of almost every species is restricted to territories lying near the Gulf of Guinea, with some records of Pochyta spp. from northern Angola ( P. major ). Only a single species, P. spinosa , has a large range, and records from the Eastern part of the continent. Aside from localities in West Africa, it has also been collected in Mozambique and Madagascar ( Fig. 158 View FIGURE 158 ), thus providing the southernmost occurrence. This distribution is rather puzzling. Possibly the species was incidentally introduced to the east and nowadays has a disjunctive range.

Natural history. Available information about the habitat preferences is given below under each species. The data show that Pochyta spp. prefer moist forest habitats. Some samples were collected by fogging from the canopy layer. In some cases, more than one species was found in a single vial, which shows that they can occur sympatrically. The very long spines on the ventral side of the tibia and metatarsus of the first leg may be an adaptation to living in leaf litter.












Pochyta Simon, 1901

Wesołowska, Wanda & Szűts, Tamás 2021


Simon, E. 1903: 740
Simon, E. 1901: 567