Comparative morphology of pretarsal scopulae in eleven spider families

Jonas O. Wolff*, Stanislav N. Gorb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Many wandering spiders bear attachment pads (scopulae) on their tarsi, consisting of hierarchically-branching adhesive setae. Amongst spider families and even species, these show remarkable differences in morphology. Using scanning electron microscopy, the scopula microstructure of sixteen spider species was described, with the focus on pretarsal scopulae (claw tufts). Area and shape of the claw tuft, seta and setule density, as well as seta and spatula dimensions were analysed and compared. Claw tufts of the majority of species studied show a similar gradient in size and shape from anterior to posterior legs: the dimension of pads increases, while setal density decreases. Commonly, there is also a gradient of both the seta and spatula size within the claw tuft: Setae become larger from the proximal to the distal part of the pad, and spatulae size increases in the same direction at the level of individual seta. Often, different hierarchical levels of claw tuft organisation are differently expressed in different species: Species with lower setal density usually have broader setae. Smaller spatula size often implicates higher setule density. Evolutionary and ecological aspects of the scopula origin are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-433
Number of pages15
JournalArthropod Structure and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative morphology of pretarsal scopulae in eleven spider families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this