Research Article
Research Article
New data of spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) of Cyprus. 1. Dysderidae found in caves
expand article infoSalih Gücel, Iris Charalambidou§, Bayram Göçmen|, Kadir Boğaç Kunt#
‡ Near East University, Nicosia, Cyprus
§ University of Nicosia, Nicosia, Cyprus
| Ege University, İzmir, Turkey
¶ Eskişehir Technical University, Eskişehir, Turkey
# Zoological Collection of Cyprus Wildlife Research Institute, Taşkent, Cyprus
Open Access


This paper is the first in a series describing the previously unstudied cave spiders from Cyprus. Two new species, Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n. and Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n., are described. Detailed morphological descriptions and diagnostic characteristics are presented. This is the first report of the genus Dysderocrates Deeleman-Reinhold & Deeleman, 1988 from Cyprus.


Biospeleology, cavernicolous, island, Mediterranean, troglobiont


The spider fauna of Cyprus, the third largest island of the Mediterranean, is poorly studied. One-hundred-fifteen species have been reported from the island (van Helsdingen 2018). The species diversity of the spider fauna on Cyprus, as compared to other Mediterranean islands, appears to be extremely low. For example, 555 species have been reported from Corsica, 523 from Sardinia, 421 from Sicily, 291 from Lesbos, 289 from Crete (van Helsdingen 2018), and approximately 315 species from Chios (Russell-Smith et al. 2011), an island in the Aegean that is a tenth the size of Cyprus. The distances of these islands to source landmasses, as well as human influence, are crucial for explaining this difference; however, araneological studies in Cyprus are extremely few and limited.

To fill this gap, we have begun a survey of the spider fauna of the island. Here we present our findings from previously uninvestigated caves. We found two new species of the dysderid genera Dysderocrates and Harpactea, and describe them based on females. Males were not sampled because they are only present for a short time in populations and because of the relatively low densities of cave spider populations in general.

Materials and methods

Spider samples were collected from Beşparmak (Pentadactylos) and Saray (Palace) Caves (Fig. 1). Beşparmak Cave is approximately 500 m long and more than 200 m deep. The entrance is a small crack. After 5‒6 m of crawling, there is a 3 m drop, and after this point, the cave is completely dark. The spider was found 50 m from the entrance in the second chamber. The temperature in this cave was approximately 17 °C. Saray Cave is a smaller cave, approximately 40 m long. The entrance is wide, and the cave is dark after 15 m, and after large boulders at 20 m, the cave is completely dark. The spider was found approximately 25 m from the entrance.

Figure 1. 

Collection localities.

Our specimens were preserved in 70% ethanol. Digital images of the copulatory organs were made with a Leica DFC295 digital camera attached to a Leica S8AP0 stereomicroscope. Between 5–15 photographs were taken at different focal planes and combined using Combine ZP (Hadley 2010). Terminology for the copulatory organs is adapted from Deeleman-Reinhold and Deeleman (1988), Deeleman-Reinhold (1993), and Chatzaki and Arnedo (2006). The number and disposition of spines follows the terminology of Özkütük et al. (2018). All measurements are given in mm.

The following abbreviations are used in the text and figures:

Carapace and abdomen:

AL abdominal length;

CL carapace length;

CWmax maximum carapace width;

CWmin minimum carapace width;

TL total length.


AME anterior median eyes;

PLE posterior lateral eyes;

PME posterior median eyes;

AMEd diameter of anterior median eyes;

PLEd diameter of posterior lateral eyes;

PMEd diameter of posterior median eyes.


ChF length of cheliceral fang;

ChG length of cheliceral groove;

ChL total length of chelicera (lateral external view).


Ta tarsus;

Mt metatarsus,

Ti tibia;

Pa patella;

Fe femur;

Tr trochanter;

C coxa;

d dorsal;

pl prolateral;

rl retrolateral;

v ventral.


ETAM Eskişehir Technical University, Arachnology Museum (Eskişehir, Turkey);

NMNUNatural History Museum of Near East University (Nicosia, Cyprus);

ZMUTZoological Museum of the University of Turku (Turku, Finland).


Family Dysderidae C.L. Koch, 1837

Dysderocrates Deeleman-Reinhold & Deeleman, 1988

Type species

Harpactocrates storkani Kratochvíl, 1935, from Macedonia.

Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n.

Figures 2–4, 5–6


Holotype ♀ (NMNU); CYPRUS, Lefkoşa, Beşparmak Mountains, Beşparmak (Pentadactylos) Cave (35°17'22"N; 33°27'56"E), collected as a dead specimen inside the cave, ca 40 m from the cave entrance, 15.I.2018, leg. S. Gücel.

Comparative material

Dysderocrates cf. regina Deeleman-Reinhold, 1988: TURKEY 1♀ (ETAM), Konya, Beyşehir, Beyşehir Lake, Hacıakif Island (37°37'35.15"N; 31°28'55.66"E), 1183 m, 29.III.2011, leg. E.A. Yağmur (Fig. 7).

Dysderocrates tanatmisi Karakaş Kılıç & Özkütük, 2017: TURKEY 1♀ (ETAM), Antalya, Elmalı, Göltarla Village (36°34'38"N; 29°55'49"E), Cedrus libani forest, under stones, 1065 m, 24.XII.2015, leg. K.B. Kunt & E.A. Yağmur (Fig. 8).

Derivatio nominis

The specific name refers to the type locality “Kıbrıs”, which is the Turkish name of Cyprus.


Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n. can be differentiated from D. silvestris Deeleman-Reinhold, 1988 (spherical spermatheca) and D. storkani (pentagonal-shaped spermatheca) by the transverse spermatheca. The new species differs from D. regina by its longer spermatheca and triangular dorsal arch (Da, Fig. 7) and from D. marani (Kratochvíl, 1937) by its anchor-shaped spermatheca and the dorsal arch longer than spermatheca. The spermatheca of D. kibrisensis sp. n. is similar to those of D. tanatmisi but differs by the angular shape of the anterior part of the dorsal arch versus the semicircular shape of the same in D. tanatmisi (cf. Figs 5, 8).

Measurements of holotype

TL 17.00; AL 9.00; CL 8.00; CWmax 6.00; CWmin 4.80; AMEd 0.29; PLEd 0.21; PMEd 0.20; ChF 2.00; ChG 1.20; ChL 3.70. Leg measurements as shown in Table 1.

Table 1.

Leg measurements of Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n.

Leg C+Tr Fe Pa Ti Mt Ta Total
I 4.50 9.50 5.50 8.20 8.00 1.25 36.95
II 4.00 8.40 5.00 7.00 7.50 1.20 33.10
III 3.00 6.50 3.50 5.00 6.50 1.20 25.70
IV 3.50 8.50 3.50 6.70 8.30 1.25 31.75

Description of holotype

Female. Carapace red, smooth. Cephalic region much narrower and darker than thoracic region (Fig. 2).

Eyes well developed (Figs 2, 3). Chelicerae blackish red. Labium and gnathocoxae blackish. Sternum reddish. Anterior part of sternum darker than posterior. Legs reddish orange. Coxae and trochanters of legs I‒II darker than legs III‒IV. Spines clumped prolaterally on leg I, uniformly distributed along a line on leg II (Fig. 4). Leg spination as shown in Table 2.

Figures 2–4. 

Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n. 2 Habitus of holotype female (arrows indicate tarsal and metatarsal scopulae) 3 Eyes 4 Femoral spination of anterior legs, left Leg I (above) right Leg II (below), prolateral view. Scale bar: 4 mm.

Table 2.

Leg spination of Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n.

Fe Ti Mt
I 5, 5pl 0 0
II 1, 1, 2, 5pl 0 0
III 0–3d 2–3pl 2rl 1, 1 2v 4pl 3rl 1, 1, 2v
IV 8–10d 3pl 4rl 1, 1, 2v 5pl 7rl 1, 1, 2v

Tarsi and metatarsi III‒IV with scopulae. Scopulae in the first quarter of the metatarsi very dense (Fig. 2). Abdomen greyish-cream, covered with short, adpressed, dark setae arranged longitudinally (Fig. 2).

Vulva. Anterior spermatheca (S) and transverse bar (Tb) strongly sclerotized, dorsal arch (Da) relatively less sclerotized. Posterior diverticulum scarcely visible. Spermatheca flat with a button-shaped structure posteromedially. Anterior margin of spermatheca not smooth. Dorsal arch mushroom-cap-shaped. Dorsal arch (Da) and transverse bar (Tb) support triangular membranous structure. Transverse bar (Tb) arched (Figs 5, 6).

Male unknown.


Known from the type locality only.


Seven species of Dysderocrates are known, and the entire genus is restricted to the Mediterranean Basin. We placed this species in Dysderocrates because it fits the diagnosis: large body size, three strong teeth on the cheliceral groove, and many spines on the anterior femora. Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n. is the first and only species of the genus reported from Cyprus.

Figures 5–8. 

Dysderocrates kibrisensis sp. n. Vulva 5 dorsal view, arrow indicates triangular membranous structure 6 ventral view Dysderocrates cf. regina Vulva 7 ventral view Dysderocrates tanatmisi Vulva 8 ventral view. Abbreviations: Da Dorsal arch Pd Posterior diverticulum S Spermatheca Tb Transverse bar. Scale bars: 0.125 mm (5–8), 0.1 mm (6).

Harpactea Bristowe, 1939

Type species

Aranea hombergi Scopoli, 1763.

Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n.

Figures 9–11, 13, 14


Holotype ♀ (NMNU); CYPRUS Lefkoşa, Kalavaç Village, Saray (Palace) Cave (35°16'56"N; 33°32'09"E), hand collecting, 521 m, 14.VII.2017, leg. K.B. Kunt.

Comparative material

Harpactea alanyana Özkütük, Elverici, Marusik & Kunt, 2015: TURKEY 1♀ (ETAM) Antalya, Alanya, Taşatan Plateau (36°38'37.35"N; 32°4'42.09"E), 24.IV.2011, leg. R.S. Özkütük (Figs 12, 15).

Harpactea parthica Brignoli, 1980: IRAN 1♀ (ZMUT), Mazandaran, 16.IX.1971, leg. P.T. Lehtinen & K. Kavén (Fig. 16).

Derivatio nominis

The specific name refers to the type locality.


The general appearance of the broad posterior diverticulum, short transverse bar, and basal transverse part of the the anterior spermathecae of H. kalavachiana sp. n. are similar to those of H. alanyana (Turkey) (Fig. 15), H. parthica (Iran) (Fig. 16), and H. digiovannii Gasparo, 2014 (Cyclades, Greece). However, the distal expansion of the spermathecae in H. kalavachiana is 4‒5 times broader than the aforementioned species. Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n. differs from H. gunselorum Gücel, Fuller, Göçmen & Kunt, 2018 from Cyprus by the enlarged distal expansion of the spermatheca which is more than twice as wide as that of H. gunselorum, and from H. cecconi (Kulczyński, 1908) by its body length, which is larger (female of H. cecconi: 5.15 mm).

Measurements of holotype

TL 3.00; AL 1.70; CL 1.30; CWmax 1.00; CWmin 0.48; AMEd 0.03; PLEd 0.02; PMEd 0.02; ChF 0.31; ChG 0.15; ChL 0.78. Leg measurements as shown in Table 3.

Table 3.

Leg measurements of Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n.

Leg C+Tr Fe Pa Ti Mt Ta Total
I 0.60 1.00 0.64 1.40 0.56 0.24 4.20
II 0.60 0.92 0.50 0.75 0.66 0.24 3.67
III 0.38 0.80 0.33 0.50 0.50 0.30 2.81
IV 0.50 1.10 0.45 0.88 1.00 0.30 4.23

Description of holotype

Female. Carapace light brown. Cephalic region narrower and lighter compared to the thoracic region. Carapace with short blackish setae, fovea distinct. Eyes reduced (Figs 10–12).

Chelicerae and cheliceral fangs light brown. Chelicerae with scattered setae of varying lengths on the anterior surface (Figs 9–11). Labium, gnathocoxae, and sternum milky brown. Sternum with more hairs on the edges compared to the middle. Legs greyish. Coxae, trochanters, and especially the femora of legs I and II are darker than others (Fig. 9). Leg spination shown in Table 4.

Figures 9–12. 

Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n. 9 Habitus of holotype female 10 Carapace, dorsal view 11 Carapace, anterior view 12 Anterior view of H. alanyana, female.

Table 4.

Leg spination of Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n.

C Fe Pa Ti Mt
I 0 2pl 0 0 0
II 0 1, 1pl 0 0 0
III 1d 1, 1pl 1, 1d 1, 1rl 1rl 2, 2pl 2, 2rl 1, 1, 2v 1pl 1, 1rl 1, 1, 2v
IV 1d 2–3d 0 4pl 1, 1, 1rl 5v 1, 1, 1pl 1, 1, 1rl 4v

Legs III and IV with weakly developed scopulae on distal parts of tarsi and metatarsi. Abdomen cylindirical, grey-brownish (Fig. 9). Abdomen covered with short, greyish setae, anterior setae longer than the ventral and dorsal ones. Margins of the tracheal spiracles are slightly sclerotized.

Vulva. Anterior part of vulva sclerotized. Distal crest (Dc) spinose. Distal crest (Dc) and the length of the rod-shaped part of the anterior spermatheca (Rsas) subequal in length. The width of the distal expansion of the spermatheca (Des) about twice longer than rod-shaped part of the anterior spermatheca (Rsas). Transverse bar (Tb) short and straight. Posterior diverticulum (Pd) well developed (Figs 13, 14).

Male unknown.


Known from the type locality only.


Harpactea is the second largest genus of the Dysderidae with 181 named species. Most Harpactea species have six well-developed eyes, although several cave-dwelling species exhibit different levels of eye reduction. Harpactea sanctidomini Gasparo, 1997 (Tremiti Islands, Italy) has only four eyes, with the PME entirely reduced. Harpactea persephone Gasparo, 2011 (Kournas Cave, Chania Prefecture, Crete, Greece), H. karaschkhan Kunt et al., 2016 (Yalandünya Cave, Gazipaşa, Antalya, Turkey), H. stalitoides Ribera, 1993 (Iberian Peninsula), and H. strinatii Brignoli, 1979 (Diros Caves, Peloponnese, Greece) are eyeless.

The eyes of H. kalavachiana sp. n. are reduced, and the AME are distant from each other, much more than average (Fig. 11). Epigean species of Harpactea are usually reddish, however, H. kalavachiana is paler compared to the other epigean species of Harpactea (Fig. 12).

Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n. can be considered part of the rubicunda (D) species group according to the grouping by Deeleman-Reinhold (1993) due to the large, membranous posterior diverticulum and the spination of the coxae and patellae.

Figures 13–16. 

Harpactea kalavachiana sp. n. Vulva 13 ventral view 14 dorsal view H. alanyana Vulva 15 dorsal view H. parthica Vulva 16 ventral view. Abbreviations: Aba Anterior basal arc Btas Basal transverse part of the anterior spermatheca Dc Distal crest Des Distal expansion of the spermatheca Pd Posterior diverticulum Rsas Rod shaped part of the anterior spermatecha Tb Transverse bar. Scale bar: 0.2 mm.

Results and discussion

The results of our study increase the number of dysderid species on Cyprus from seven to nine, which increases the entire spider fauna to 117. Because the distributions of the two new species are limited to their type localities and because most cave species have small distributions, it is very likely that they are endemic to Cyprus.

Our arachnological sampling on the island continues. Future additional samples, including males of these two new species, will help determine their generic position more precisely.


This study was produced with the financial support of the European Union as part of the “Caves of Kyrenia Mountains Project: Research, Conservation, and Education through "Cypriot Civil Society in Action V Program” (contract number: 2015/371- 989) and co-funded by the US Embassy in Nicosia. This research was led by Mağara Meraklıları Derneği (Cave Enthusiasts NGO) in Cyprus and the Union of International Speleology (UIS) in Slovenia. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union. We are deeply indebted to Ferhat Altunsoy (Eskişehir, Turkey) and Mert Elverici (Ankara, Turkey) who photographed the holotypes of the new species. We also thank Yuri Marusik (Magadan, Russia) who kindly provided a photograph of the vulva of Harpactea parthica from Iran. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of our manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions. The English of the final text was kindly checked by Sarah Crews (San Francisco, USA).


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