Research Article
Research Article
A survey of Dysderella Dunin, 1992 (Araneae, Dysderidae), with a new species from Iran
expand article infoAlireza Zamani, Yuri M. Marusik§|, Tamás Szűts
‡ University of Turku, Turku, Finland
§ Altai State University, Barnaul, Russia
| University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
¶ University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Open Access


The dysderid spider genus Dysderella Dunin, 1992 is surveyed. The genus currently comprises two species: D. caspica (Dunin, 1990) from Azerbaijan and North Caucasus and D. transcaspica (Dunin & Fet, 1985) from Turkmenistan and north-eastern Iran. Herein, D. elburzica sp. nov. is described based on male specimens collected in Tehran Province, northern Iran. All three species are illustrated and their distributions are mapped.

Key Words

Aranei, Caucasus, Dysderinae, Middle East, Turkmenistan, woodlouse spiders


Dysderella Dunin, 1992, a small genus of dysderid spiders, is presently composed of only two known species, both of which were originally described in Dysdera Latreille, 1804. The first, D. caspica (Dunin, 1990), was described from Azerbaijan (Dunin 1990) and subsequently recorded from North Caucasus (Ponomarev and Alieva 2010). The second species, D. transcaspica (Dunin & Fet, 1985), was initially discovered in Turkmenistan (Dunin and Fet 1985) and later reported from north-eastern Iran (Zamani et al. 2015). In this study, we present a survey of this genus and describe a new species from Tehran Province of Iran. All three species are depicted with illustrations and their distribution records are mapped.

Material and method

Photographs of specimens and their copulatory organs were obtained using a Nikon D300S DSLR camera attached to a Nikon SMZ-800 stereomicroscope, a Tucsen TrueChrome Metrics microscope camera attached to a Nikon Eclipse E200 compound microscope and an Olympus E‐520 camera attached to an Olympus SZX16 stereomicroscope or to the eye-piece of an Olympus BH2 transmission microscope. Digital images of different focal planes were stacked with Helicon Focus 8.1.1. Illustrations of the endogynes were made after digesting off tissues with a Neo PanPur commercial pancreatic enzyme cocktail pill, clearing the structures in wintergreen oil (methyl-salicylate), then mounting them on a temperate slide preparation (Coddington 1983). Lengths were measured without the chelicerae and the spinnerets. Leg segments were measured on the dorsal side and their measurements are listed as: total length (femur, patella, tibia, metatarsus, tarsus). All measurements are given in millimetres. Geographic coordinates of collection localities were obtained from the labels (given in parentheses) or georeferenced using Google Earth (given in square brackets). The distribution map was prepared using SimpleMappr (Shorthouse 2010).

Abbreviations: Eyes: AME ‒ anterior median eye, PLE ‒ posterior lateral eye, PME ‒ posterior median eye. Spination: Mt ‒ metatarsus, pl ‒ prolateral, Ti ‒ tibia, v ‒ ventral.

Depositories: MMUEManchester Museum of the University of Manchester, United Kingdom (D.V. Logunov); ZMFUMZoological Museum of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran (O. Mirshamsi); ZISPZoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia (D.V. Logunov); ZMMUZoological Museum of Moscow State University, Russia (K.G. Mikhailov).


Family Dysderidae C.L. Koch, 1837

Subfamily Dysderinae C.L. Koch, 1837

Dysderella Dunin, 1992

Type species

Dysdera transcaspica Dunin & Fet, 1985, from Turkmenistan.


The genus is most similar to Dysdera C.L. Koch, 1837, but can be distinguished from it by the smaller size (i.e. carapace < 2.1 mm vs. > 4 mm) and the spineless legs I and II (vs. spinose in most species).


Small-sized (i.e. body length less than 5 mm). Pars cephalica very flat (Figs 1C, F, 4C, 6C). Interdistance of AMEs smaller than AME diameter. PMEs closely spaced. Legs with few spines; legs III and IV, if spinose, with only a few spines on tibiae and metatarsi. Gnathocoxae and tarsal claws as in Dysdera. Bulb with a hook-like posterior apophysis. Endogyne with П-shaped anterior diverticulum and dumbbell-shaped ‘spermatheca’.

Figure 1. 

Male (A–C) and female (D–F) of Dysderella caspica: A, D. Habitus, dorsal view; B, E. Same, ventral view; C, F. Same, lateral view. Scale bars: 1.0 mm.


Three species, including the new one described here (WSC 2023).


From Northern Caucasus (Dagestan) southward to Tehran Province of Iran and eastward to southern Turkmenistan (Fig. 8).

Dysderella caspica (Dunin, 1990)

Figs 1A–F, 2A–C, 3A–F

Dysdera kollari: Dunin 1984: 53 (as per Dunin 1992: 71).

Dysdera caspica Dunin, 1990: 143, figs 4.1–4 (♂♀).

Dysderella caspica: Dunin 1992: 67, fig. 12 (♂♀); Ponomarev and Alieva 2010: 12.


Azerbaijan: Baku Region: 1♂ (ZMMU), environs of Baku, Dyubendy, (40°29'N, 50°13'E), 18.05, 8.06.2003 (Y.M. Marusik); 1♂1♀2j. (ZMMU), Gobustan, (40°07'N, 49°23'E), 17–31.05.2003 (Y.M. Marusik).


Male palp of D. caspica is most similar to that of D. transcaspica, but differs by the relatively shorter psembolus (Ps) (i.e. length/width ratio ca. 5, vs. 5.4) and the presence of a membranous outgrowth (Mo). Female of D. caspica differs from that of D. transcaspica by the relatively wider anterior diverticulum (Ad) (i.e. almost twice broader than long, vs. 1.5 times broader than long). Males of the two species differ also in spination (i.e. 1 spine on metatarsus III and 2 spines on leg IV in D. caspica, vs. 2 spines on metatarsus III and 3 spines on leg IV).


Male. Habitus as in Fig. 1A–C. Total length 3.91. Carapace 1.62 long, 1.26 wide. Eye sizes: AME 0.07, PME 0.08, PLE 0.08. Carapace, sternum, chelicerae, labium and maxillae light reddish. Legs yellowish orange. Abdomen light beige, without any pattern. Spinnerets uniformly beige. Measurements of legs: I: 4.14 (1.23, 0.76, 0.89, 0.84, 0.42), II: 3.68 (1.10, 0.67, 0.78, 0.76, 0.37), III: 2.89 (0.81, 0.51, 0.53, 0.76, 0.28), IV: 3.90 (1.10, 0.61, 0.86, 0.97, 0.36). Spination: III: Ti: 1pl, 1v; Mt: 1pl. IV: Ti: 1pl; Mt: 1pl.

Palp as in Fig. 2A–C; tibia twice longer than wide, slightly shorter than cymbium; bulb ca. 3 times longer than wide, tegular part ca. 2 times longer than wide; psembolus ca. as long as tegular part, margins almost parallel, stylus short, shorter than width of psembolus; middle part of bulb with triangular membranous outgrowth (Mo).

Figure 2. 

Male palp of Dysderella caspica: A. Prolateral view; B. Retrolateral view; C. Anterior view. Scale bar: 0.2 mm. Abbreviations: Mo – membranous outgrowth; Ps – psembolus; St – stylus.

Female. Habitus as in Fig. 1D–F. Total length 5.44. Carapace 1.83 long, 1.36 wide. Eye sizes: AME 0.11, PME 0.06, PLE 0.05. Colouration and spination as in male. Measurements of legs: I: 6.88 (1.96, 1.07, 1.53, 1.73, 0.59), II: 6.05 (1.69, 1.13, 1.34, 1.37, 0.52), III: 4.83 (1.38, 0.84, 0.84, 1.27, 0.50), IV: 6.69 (1.81, 1.29, 1.48, 1.53, 0.58).

Endogyne as in Fig. 3A–F; dumbbell-shaped ‘spermatheca’ well visible through integument; anterior diverticulum (Ad) almost 2 times broader than long, heads of spermatheca (Hs) globular, spaced by ca. 2.5 diameters.

Figure 3. 

Endogynes of Dysderella caspica (A–F) and D. transcaspica (G): A. Intact, ventral view; B–D, F, G. Macerated, dorsal view; E. Same, ventral view; F. Reproduced from Dunin (1990); G. Reproduced from Dunin and Fet (1985). Scale bars: 0.2 mm. Abbreviations: Ad – anterior diverticulum; Hs – head of ‘spermatheca’.


A xerophilous species that inhabits wormwood (Artemisia absinthium L.) and ephemeroid semi-deserts and can be found under stones, in soil cracks and within rodent burrows (Dunin 1992).


Azerbaijan (Baku, Ganja and Goygol), North Caucasus (Dagestan) (Fig. 8).

Dysderella elburzica sp. nov.

Figs 4A–C, 5A–F

Type material

Holotype ♂ (MMUE), Iran: Tehran Province: Latian Dam, (35°48'N, 51°08'E), 6–19.6.2000 (Y.M. Marusik). Paratype: 1♂ (MMUE), same data as for the holotype.


The specific epithet is an adjective, referring to the Elburz Mountain Range in northern Iran.


Male of the new species differs from its congeners by having tapering psembolus (vs. psembolus with subparallel margins).


Male. Habitus as in Fig. 4A–C. Total length 3.63. Carapace 1.63 long, 1.19 wide. Eye sizes: AME 0.08, PME 0.08, PLE 0.06. Carapace, sternum, chelicerae, labium and maxillae light reddish. Legs yellowish orange. Abdomen light beige, without any pattern. Spinnerets uniformly beige. Measurements of legs: I: 5.30 (1.35, 0.99, 1.27, 1.21, 0.48), II: 5.12 (1.51, 0.86, 1.16, 1.16, 0.43), III: 4.25 (1.22, 0.71, 0.77, 1.04, 0.51), IV: 5.32 (1.68, 0.69, 1.19, 1.37, 0.39). Spination: III: Ti: 1pl; Mt: 1pl. IV: Ti: 1pl; Mt: 1pl.

Figure 4. 

Male of Dysderella elburzica sp. nov.: A. Habitus, dorsal view; B. Same, ventral view; C. Same, lateral view. Scale bars: 0.5 mm.

Palp as in Fig. 5A–F; femur 4 times longer than wide, almost as long as patella+tibia; patella and tibia subequal in length; bulb ca. 3.4 times longer than wide; psembolus ca. 1.7 times longer than tegulum (in prolateral view); psembolus gradually tapering, with long stylus.

Figure 5. 

Male palp of Dysderella elburzica sp. nov.: A. Whole palp, retrolateral view; B. Same, prolateral view; C. Cymbium and bulb, posterior view; D. Same, anterior view; E. Same, prolateral view; F. Same, retrolateral view. Scale bars: 0.2 mm.

Female. Unknown.


Known only from the type locality in Tehran Province, northern Iran (Fig. 8).

Dysderella transcaspica (Dunin & Fet, 1985)

Figs 3G, 6A–C, 7A–J

Dysdera kollari: Ovtsharenko and Fet 1980: 443; Fet 1983: 837 (as per Dunin and Fet 1985: 298).

Dysdera transcaspica Dunin & Fet, 1985: 298, figs 1–4 (♂♀).

Dysdera transcaspica: Dunin 1985: 118, figs 5–7 (♂).

Dysderella transcaspica: Dunin 1992: 67; Zamani et al. 2015: 340, fig. 1a–g (♀).


Turkmenistan: Balkan Province: 1♂1♀ (ZMMU), south-western Kopetdagh, Yoldere (= Eldere) Valley, [38°31'N, 56°23'E], under garland thorn, 25.05.1982 (N.S. Ustinova); 1 juv. (ZMMU), Aydere Valley, [38°24'N, 56°45'E], 27.05.1980 (V.Y. Fet). Iran: Razavi Khorasan Province: 1♂ (only palp) (ZMFUM), Torbat-e Jam, Ghader Abad, [35°16'N, 60°37'E], 05.2014 (B. Jannesar).


Dunin and Fet (1985) stated that all type series (consisting of 16 males and 12 females) were deposited in ZISP. However, according to D.V. Logunov (personal communication), the material could not be located there. Three specimens were found in ZMMU, consisting of one male, one female without endogyne and a juvenile.


See diagnosis for D. caspica.


Male. Habitus as in Fig. 6A–C. Total length 4.00. Carapace 1.95 long, 1.45 wide. Eye sizes: AME 0.11, PME 0.10, PLE 0.11. Carapace, sternum, chelicerae, labium and maxillae reddish. Legs yellowish orange. Abdomen light beige, without any pattern. Spinnerets uniformly beige. Measurements of legs: I: 5.40 (1.45, 1.03, 1.26, 1.24, 0.42), II: 4.75 (1.17, 0.87, 1.13, 1.17, 0.41), III: 3.63 (1.07, 0.62, 0.68, 0.92, 0.34), IV: 5.00 (1.35, 0.83, 1.16, 1.21, 0.45). Spination: III: Ti: 1pl, 1v; Mt: 2v. IV: Ti: 1v; Mt: 2v.

Figure 6. 

Male of Dysderella transcaspica: A. Habitus, dorsal view; B. Same, ventral view; C. Same, lateral view.

Palp as in Fig. 7A–J; femur 4 times longer than wide and as long as patella+tibia; tibia almost as long as cymbium; psembolus almost straight, with subparallel margins, ca. 5.4 times longer than wide, with stylus (broken in the illustrated specimen).

Figure 7. 

Male palp of Dysderella transcaspica (stylus broken): A. Whole palp, retrolateral view; B, D, E. Close-up, anteroretrolateral, prolateral and retrolateral views; C, F. Tip of psembolus, retrolateral and prolateral views; G. Cymbium and bulb, retrolateral view; H. Same, prolateral view; I. Same, posterior view; J. Same, anterior view. Scale bars: 0.2 mm.

Female. See Dunin and Fet (1985). Colouration and spination as in male; endogyne as in Fig. 3G.


The habitats of this species range from foothills to low mountains. It can be found in various microhabitats, including under stones, within ground cracks and inside rodent burrows (Dunin 1985).


Turkmenistan (Ahal, Ashgabat, Balkan, Mary), Iran (Razavi Khorasan) (Fig. 8).

Figure 8. 

Distribution records of Dysderella spp.: circles – D. caspica; star – D. elburzica sp. nov.; square – D. transcaspica. Yellow symbols refer to the type localities.


We express our gratitude to Victor Fet for providing literature. We also wish to thank Kirill Y. Eskov and Kirill G. Mikhailov for their efforts in locating and providing a loan of the studied material of D. transcaspica deposited in ZMMU. Additionally, we would like to thank Dmitri V. Logunov for his effort in locating the apparently lost holotype and paratypes of this species in ZISP. We are thankful to the reviewers Mikhail Omelko, Maria Naumova and Anna Šestáková for their valuable comments and suggestions provided on the earlier version of the manuscript.


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