The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change
is a research museum of the Leibniz Association
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Crab spiders, family Thomisidae, is a specious family which includes over 2000 described species in 175 genera. Recent fieldwork, conducted around the globe (Sri Lanka, Madagascar and South America) by various institutions suggests that this is only a fraction of its true diversity. Crab spiders are mainly active during the day and ambush insects with their well-adapted first and second pairs of legs. Thomisids are behaviorally versatile, exhibiting complex behaviors, like their remarkable ability to change color, myrmecomorphism, and sociality. Understanding the phylogenetic structure of this large family has always been problematic. Most published papers on higher-level thomisid relationships present poorly substantiated relationships. Their conclusions are based mostly upon inductive reasoning. The long term aim my research is to provide a stable phylogenetic hypothesis for the family Thomisidae by analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data for most taxa of the family. I will use this phylogenetic hypothesis to propose a revised taxonomy for the family, to study the evolution of the diverse behaviors of the family and to test biogeographic hypotheses.