Leviana, Framenau & Kuntner, 2022

Framenau, Volker W. & Kuntner, Matjaz, 2022, The new Australian leaf-curling orb-weaving spider genus Leviana (Araneae, Araneidae), Evolutionary Systematics 6 (2), pp. 103-133 : 103

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gen. nov.

Leviana gen. nov.

Type species.

Epeira dimidiata L. Koch, 1871 (designated here).


The generic name honours the late Herbert Levi (1921-2014) for his contribution to araneid taxonomy and systematics. The gender of the genus-group name is feminine.


The following morphological and behavioural synapomorphies unequivocally diagnose Leviana gen. nov. from other genera of the Araneidae , specifically those of the putative backobourkiines ( Acroaspis Karsch, 1878; Backobourkia Framenau, Dupérré, Blackledge & Vink, 2010; Carepalxis L. Koch, 1872, Hortophora Framenau & Castanheira, 2021; Lariniophora Framenau, 2011; Novakiella Court & Foster, 1993; Plebs Joseph & Framenau, 2012; Salsa Framenau & Castanheira, 2022, Socca Framenau, Castanheira & Vink, 2022): abdomen without humeral or posterior dorsal humps; basal arch of the median apophysis of the male pedipalp internally with basally directed spine (e.g. Figs 3C View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 7C View Figure 7 , 12C View Figure 12 , 15C View Figure 15 ); female epigyne generally wider than long, ovoid atrium, scape broad to triangular without terminal pocket, but broken off in most specimens (e.g. Figs 3E View Figure 3 , 8C View Figure 8 , 11C View Figure 11 , 16C, D View Figure 16 ); incorporation of a curled leaf as retreat into the periphery of an open V-section in the web (Fig. 1A View Figure 1 ) (but details on web-building in some species unknown).

Members of the genus Leviana gen. nov. superficially resemble those of the leaf-curling genera Artifex Kallal & Hormiga, 2018, Deliochus Simon, 1894 and Phonognatha , particularly in the cylindrical shape of the abdomen and the lack of abdominal humps. However, this is likely a reflection of the leaf-curling behaviour which appears to favour such body shape. Artifex , Deliochus and Phonognatha belong to the araneid subfamily Phonognathinae (as Zygiellinae in Kallal and Hormiga (2018)) or Phonognathidae (sensu Kuntner et al. 2019), whereas Leviana gen. nov. morphology is consistent with the backobourkiines (sensu Scharff et al. 2020).


Small to medium-sized (total length males ca. 2.0-7.0, females 2.5-10.0 mm) orb-weaving spiders, with males slightly smaller than females. This difference in the size of sexes can be considered as very moderate sexual size dimorphism ( Kuntner and Coddington 2020). Carapace (e.g. Figs 7A View Figure 7 , 8A View Figure 8 , 10A View Figure 10 , 11A View Figure 11 , 17A View Figure 17 , 18A View Figure 18 ) longer than wide, pear-shaped; centre of cephalic region protruding more in males than in females; fovea poorly demarcated both in males and females forming a shallow pit; colouration brown in variable shades, sometimes with darker lateral flanks and cephalic area generally lighter; weak white pubescence both in males and females, particularly in the cephalic area. Eyes: anterior median eyes largest, their row wider than that of posterior median eyes; row of posterior eyes slightly recurved; lateral eyes almost touching and separated by more than their diameter from posterior median eyes; lateral eye groups elevated, a small horn of this elevation protrudes anteriorly. Sternum longer than wide. Labium wider than long, subtriangular, front end bulging and white. Maxillae with large lateral tooth present in males. Chelicerae with 4 (rarely 3) promarginal teeth, 3 (rarely 2) retromarginal teeth, Legs: leg formula I> II> IV> III; tibiae I and II in males strong in some species with more distinct spines, specifically prolaterally (e.g. Figs 12A, B View Figure 12 , 15A, B View Figure 15 , 17A, B View Figure 17 ); coxae I of male with hook and femora II with opposing groove. Abdomen longer than wide; ovoid to cylindrical, slightly dorsoventrally flattened in some species (e.g., Figs 7A View Figure 7 , 8A View Figure 8 , 12A View Figure 12 , 13A View Figure 13 , 17A View Figure 17 , 18A View Figure 18 ); booklung covers with grooves; dorsum of abdomen uniform with some dark or light markings (Figs 7A View Figure 7 , 8A View Figure 8 , 10A View Figure 10 , 11A View Figure 11 ) or with more or less distinct Leviana folium pattern (e.g., Figs 12A View Figure 12 , 13A View Figure 13 , 15A View Figure 15 , 16A View Figure 16 ); ventral abdomen centrally light to dark grey, generally with lateral irregular guanine bands (e.g., Figs 8B View Figure 8 , 10B View Figure 10 , 13B View Figure 13 , 18B View Figure 18 ).

Spinnerets (based on female L. folium sp. nov. see Fig. 2A-D View Figure 2 ) (nomenclature and abbreviations after Coddington (1989)): Anterior lateral spinnerets (ALS) with large field of piriform gland spigots (PI) (piriform spigots with normal bases), a major ampullate gland spigot (MAP) and a nubbin (nu) (Fig. 2B View Figure 2 ); posterior lateral spinnerets (PLS) with large field of aciniform gland spigots (AC), two aggregate gland spigots (AG) with a flagelliform gland spigot (FL) in between and a cylindriform gland spigot (CY) mesally (Fig. 2C View Figure 2 ); posterior median spinneret with large field of aciniform gland spigots, a central cylindriform gland spigot and a posterior minor ampullate gland spigot (mAP) (Fig. 2D View Figure 2 ).

Male pedipalp femora with tubercle; patellae with a single strong macroseta (e.g., Fig. 4A View Figure 4 , 5B View Figure 5 , 7C, D View Figure 7 ). Paracymbium present, simple and rounded (Figs 4B View Figure 4 , 5C View Figure 5 , 7D View Figure 7 ). Cymbium narrow. Conductor entire and prominent, heavily sclerotised, with a number of lobes and processes (e.g. Figs 3A View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 5B View Figure 5 ); basal conductor lobe present (e.g. Figs 3A View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 5B View Figure 5 ). Median apophysis transverse, tip pointing apically and either broadly lobed (Figs 3A View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 5B View Figure 5 , 7C View Figure 7 , 10C View Figure 10 , 12C View Figure 12 ) or more or less tapering (Figs 15C View Figure 15 , 17C View Figure 17 ), basal arch internally with large spine (Figs 3A, C View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 7C View Figure 7 , 12C View Figure 12 ). Embolic division with radix, stipes, terminal apophysis and embolus (e.g., Figs 3A, B View Figure 3 , 5A-C View Figure 5 ). Radix elongated, partially sclerotised. Stipes a thin, sometimes translucent but prominent lamella (e.g. Figs 3A, D View Figure 3 , 4A View Figure 4 , 5A View Figure 5 , 7A View Figure 7 ). Terminal apophysis fleshy, elongated and terminating in two lobes or one lobe and spine (Figs 3A, D View Figure 3 , 4A, B View Figure 4 , 17C View Figure 17 ). Embolus short, curved and heavily sclerotised (e.g. Fig. 3A, D View Figure 3 ); tip of the embolus uncapped.

Epigyne ovoid, generally wider than long (e.g. Figs 3E, F View Figure 3 , 8C, F View Figure 8 , 11C, F View Figure 11 ), scape approximately as long as epigyne, thin, broadly lipped or triangular (Figs 8C View Figure 8 , 11C View Figure 11 , 13C View Figure 13 , 16C View Figure 16 )), but broken off in most specimens (e.g., Figs 3E View Figure 3 , 8F View Figure 8 , 13F View Figure 13 , 16F View Figure 16 , 18C View Figure 18 ); spermathecae ovoid, fertilization ducts slightly curved an attaching laterally at atrium (Fig. 6A, B View Figure 6 ).


Leviana dimidiata (L. Koch, 1871) comb. nov.; L. cincinnata sp. nov.; L. folium sp. nov., L. minima sp. nov.; L. mulieraria (Keyserling, 1887).


Tropical, east and south-eastern Australia (Australian Capital Territory (inferred), New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia) (Figs 9 View Figure 9 , 14 View Figure 14 ).