The spider family Hahniidae (comb-tailed spiders) includes 250 described species (Platnick 2013), 58 of which occur in North America north of Mexico (Bennett 2005). The common name "comb-tailed spiders" refers to the fact that many hahniids share the unusual feature that all six of their spinnerets are arranged in a line (Bradley 2013), although this is not so for those in the subfamily Cryphoecinae, which accounts for two thirds of the North American hahniids (however, of these only Calymmaria and Cryphoeca are commonly encountered; Bennett 2005 and references therein). Like so many groups in the "RTA clade", the hahniids have a checkered taxonomic past, with many species formerly placed in other families, including Agelenidae and Dictynidae, and unresolved questions about the systematics and taxonomy of these spiders remain (Bennett 2005 and references therein; Miller et al. 2010; Platnick 2013)
Hahniids are typically ground dwellers, most often encountered when searching through leaf litter or sorting pitfall trap samples, but spiders in some genera build webs (e.g., Calymmaria, which place their webs beneath and between bark, beneath moss on rocks and living trees, beneath fallen tree trunks, in caves,and especially along streams; Heiss and Draney 2004). Among Nearctic members of the subfamily Hahniinae, only Neoantistea have been observed to build webs. These webs are small simple sheets, without retreats, which are built in moss or over small depressions in the ground--they can often be found in footprints left by animals walking on soft ground (Bennett 2005).
Opell and Beatty (1976) review the morphology and distribution of the North American and Mexican species of Hahniinae (which they treat as being the only members of the family Hahniidae). Roth and Brame (1972) review the morphology, distribution, and habitat associations of the Nearctic cryphoecine genera (which they includ in the Agelenidae).
- Bennett, R.G. 2005. Hahniidae. Pp. 112-115 in D. Ubick, P. Paquin, P.E. Cushing, and V. Roth (eds.) Spiders of North America: an Identification Manual. American Arachnological Society.
- Bradley, R.A. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Heiss, J.S. and M.L. Draney. 2004. Revision of the Nearctic spider genus Calymmaria (Araneae, Hahniidae). Journal of Arachnology 32: 457-525.
- Miller, J.A., A. Carmichael, M.J. Ramírez, et al. 2010. Phylogeny of entelegyne spiders: Affinities of the family Penestomidae (NEW RANK), generic phylogeny of Eresidae, and asymmetric rates of change in spinning organ evolution (Araneae, Araneoidea, Entelegynae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55: 786–80.
- Opell, B.D. and J.A. Beatty. 1976. The Nearctic Hahniidae (Arachnida: Araneae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 147: 393-433.
- Platnick, N. I. 2013. The world spider catalog, version 14.0. American Museum of Natural History, online at http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/index.html
- Roth, V.D. and P.L. Brame. 1972. Nearctic genera of the spider family Agelenidae (Arachnida, Araneida). American Museum Novitates No. 2505: 1-52.
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