Darrell Ubick

  • Curatorial Assistant
  • Entomology

I was preadapted for entomological pursuits, being blessed by nearsightedness and an eye for form, coupled with a preference for nature and solitude.  With a virtually infinite supply of remarkable forms and colors, insects became the focus of my passion for collecting and identifying the local fauna, starting with butterflies and then progressing to beetles and wasps.  During my high school years, I was introduced to arachnids by Tom Briggs, through his work on harvestmen, and the numerous field trips he led.  My interest in spiders began in 1972 at the American Museum of Natural History’s Southwestern Research Station in Arizona.  There I was mentored by Vince Roth and Willis Gertsch, and had the fortune of meeting numerous arachnologists at the first AAS conference.

 

From that time, I have dabbled in various aspects of spider and harvestman systematic.  I have three current projects:

 

 

 

 

 

 


Phalangodidae, systematic revision of the Nearctic fauna.

 

Phalangodids are small (1-3mm) short-legged harvestmen that live in cryptozoic and subterranean habitats.  The Californian fauna had received little study and only 4 species were known until the 1960s, when T. Briggs began work on the group.  Intense sampling across the entire region, with the assistance of several motivated students, showed that these previously rare organisms are actually widespread and even abundant in mesic microhabitats.  Within a decade the number of known species increased ten-fold.  I first published with Briggs in 1981 and have co-authored a series of studies towards the eventual revision of the Nearctic fauna.  At present there are about 70 species known from California-- clearly the phalangodid hot spot –which represent about 2/3 of the Nearctic and over half of the entire Holarctic fauna. 

 

 


With the aid of new imaging devices, primarily the Scanning Electron Microscope, it became possible to more closely examine phalangodid morphology.  Here we discovered many novel characters, largely in the previously poorly known reproductive structures, which, it turns out, are amazingly diverse and span the range of complexity. 

 

Phalangodids also vary in adaptive characters.  Species from more xeric habitats, grasslands and oak savannahs, are typically reduced in size and structure as compared to forest dwellers.  This appears to be an example of paedomorphy (progenesis, sensu Gould), where development is altered as an adaptation to harsh environments.  Several paedomorphic species are known only from serpentine grasslands.  Phalangodids are also abundant in caves, and many species in several genera are obligate cavernicoles (troglobites). 

 

 

 

 

 


Our analysis of phalangodid morphology shows that the Californian fauna is not only the richest in terms of species, but genera, as well.  Of the 10 generic clades in the Nearctic, only one is lacks Californian representatives.  Our current project is the revision of the eastern fauna, which will complete the preliminary Nearctic survey.  The secondary phase of our studies will include sampling in regions of phalangodid disjunctions, where additional new species are expected.  The identity of these species will test our preliminary hypotheses.  A tertiary form of testing is currently taking place with the molecular work of M. Hedin, S. Thomas, and others at San Diego State University.

Arachnid Systematics, Evolution & Conservation

 

 

 


Conservation

Most phalangodid species have very narrow distributions, many known only from single localities, and some from regions of encroaching urbanization.  A number of species are now listed in Federal and State registers as worthy of some protection.  In California most phalangodids are listed by the Department of Fish and Game as species of special concern:

DFG - Browse Species

Also, three troglobitic species of Texella are federally listed as endangered:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Species Reports


Spider Genera of North America

This project was first proposed by V. Roth in 1972 at the first meeting of the American Arachnological Society.  A decade later, and through collaborative involvement, Roth assembled the first edition of identification keys to the Nearctic genera, followed by two revisions, the last one in 1994.  With increasing advances in spider taxonomy, that once indispensable volume became progressively more outdated and, in 2001, a study group was formed to consider a quick revision of Roth’s taxonomy with a tweaking of the illustrations.  I started work on the revision that September, and it soon became apparent that explosive changes would be needed, including a complete revamping of the keys and virtually all of the illustrations.  Fortunately, this pie in the sky became a reality due to the combination of a generous monetary donation by an anonymous arachnophile coupled with the enthusiastic participation by over 30 contributors and dozens of volunteers, and which has resulted in the current volume.  A second edition is in progress and aims to expand coverage to include the Mexican genera.

Book Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Planetary Biological Inventory of OONOPIDAE: goblin spiders

The Planetary Biological Inventory of Oonopidae, or goblin spiders, was conceived and organized by N. Platnick of AMNH, and now has the participation of some 40 researchers and students from 19 institutions in 10 countries.  The ultimate goal is description of the entire global fauna, which is currently at 500 species but estimated at four times that number.  The CAS contribution will be the description of the Malagasy fauna.  Although no oonopid species had been recorded from Madagascar, intense sampling of that island’s arthropod fauna, primarily by B. Fisher, C. Griswold, and associates, has resulted in many thousands of oonopids which represent about 100 species.  These species are currently being studied by myself and four other PBI participants.

Goblin Spider Website

M.A., Biology, San José State University, California (1980)
B.S., Entomology, San José State University, California (1976)

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Scientific investigator in the Planetary Biological Inventory: spider family Oonopidae (NSF grant) Since 2007 California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Scanning Electron Microscope Technician 1991-2001 California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Curatorial Assistant in Entomology Since 1983 San Francisco State University Associate Professor at Field Campus in Sierra County Since 1991 San José State University Instructor for upper division course on Arachnology Fall 1982 San José State University Curator of Entomology Museum 1979-1981 Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Arizona Research Assistant, volunteer Summer 1975 Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Arizona Research Assistant on a grant from the American Museum of Natural History Summer 1972 Galileo High School, San Francisco Instructor of natural history class at Lux Laboratory Science Program Spring 1972

  • Ubick, D. & V.D. Roth. 1973. Nearctic Gnaphosidae, including species from adjacent Mexican States. American Arachnology, 9(2):1-12 & 9(3):1-6.(catalogue)
  • Briggs, T.S. & D. Ubick. 1981. Studies on cave harvestmen of the central Sierra Nevada, with descriptions of new species of Banksula. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 42(11):315-322. PDF
  • Briggs, T.S. & D. Ubick. 1988. Cavernicoles from Cave Gulch, Santa Cruz County. California Caver, 38 (2):43-4.
  • Ubick, D. & T.S. Briggs. 1989. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 1. The new genus Calicina, with notes on Sitalcina. (Opiliones: Laniatores). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 46(4):95-136.
  • Briggs, T.S. & D. Ubick. 1989. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 2. The new genus, Microcina. (Opiliones: Laniatores). Journal of Arachnology,17:207-220. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 1989. A revision of the spider genus Drassinella (Araneae, Liocranidae). American Museum Novitates, 2937:1-12. PDF
  • Jocqué, R. & D. Ubick. 1991. A revision of the genus Ishania Chamberlin (Araneae, Zodariidae). Bulletin of the British arachnological Society, 8(8):241-245.
  • Ubick, D. & N. I. Platnick. 1991. On Hesperocranum , a new spider genus from Western North America (Araneae, Liocranidae). American Museum Novitates, 3019:1-12. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & T.S. Briggs. 1992. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 3. Revision of Texella Goodnight and Goodnight (Opiliones: Laniatores). Texas Memorial Museum, Speleological Monograph, 3:155-240.
  • Ubick, D. & M.J. Moody. 1995. On males of Californian Talanites (Araneae: Gnaphosidae). Journal of Arachnology, 23:209-211. PDF
  • Olsen, A.R., W.E. Savary, & D. Ubick. 1996. Spiders (Arachnida: Araneae). In Olsen, A. R. (ed.). Fundamentals of Microanalytical Entomology. A Practical Guide to Detecting and Identifying Filth in Foods. CRC Press.
  • Ubick, D. 1999. Obituary: Vincent D. Roth (1924--1997). Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 75(3):121-129. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & P.H. Arnaud. 2001. Vincent Daniel Roth (1924--1997): scientific publications, catalog of arachnid and plant taxa, and chronology. Myia, 6:169-185.
  • Griswold, C.E. & D. Ubick. 2001. Zoropsidae: a spider family newly introduced to the USA (Araneae, Entelegynae, Lycosoidea). Journal of Arachnology., 29:111-113. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 2001. A revision of the North American spiders of the new genus Socalchemmis (Araneae, Tengellidae). American Museum Novitates, 3339:1-25. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & T.S. Briggs. 2002. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 4. A review of the genus Banksula (Opiliones: Laniatores). Journal of Arachnology., 30:435-451. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & T.S. Briggs. 2004. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 5. New records and species of Texella Goodnight & Goodnight (Opiliones: Laniatores). Texas Memorial Museum, Speleological Monographs, 6:101-141. PDF
  • Yin, C.-M., D. Ubick, Y.-H. Bao, & X. Xu. 2004. Three new species of the spider genus Phrurolithus from China (Araneae, Corinnidae). Journal of Arachnology, 32:270-275. PDF
  • Miller, J.A. & D. Ubick. 2004. Spiders. pp 105-128. in C.A. Triplehorn & N.F. Johnson. (eds.) Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects. Seventh Edition. 864 pp. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 2005. A revision of the North American spiders genus Anachemmis Chamberlin (Araneae, Tengellidae). American Museum Novitates, 3477:1-20. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & R.S. Vetter. 2005. A new species of Apostenus from California, with notes on the genus (Araneae, Liocranidae). Journal of Arachnology., 33:63-75. PDF
  • Ubick, D. 2005. New genera and species of cribellate coelotine spiders from California (Araneae: Amaurobiidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth Series, 56(24):305-336. PDF
  • Ubick, D., P. Paquin, P.E. Cushing, & V. Roth (eds). 2005. Spiders of North America: an identification manual. American Arachnologcal Society. 377 pages.
  • Ubick, D & J. A. Dunlop. 2005. On the placement of the Baltic amber harvestman Gonyleptes nemastomoides Koch & Berendt, 1854, with notes on the phylogeny of Cladonychiidae (Opiliones, Laniatores, Travunioidea). Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Geowissenschaftliche Reihe 8:75-82. PDF
  • Ubick, D & R. Ozimec. 2005. On the harvestman genus Lola Kratochvíl (Opiliones: Laniatores). Natura Croatica, 14(3):161-174. PDF
  • Briggs, T.S. & D. Ubick. 2007. Cladonychiidae. pp.179-182. in R. Pinto-da-Rocha, G. Machado, & G. Giribet. (eds.) Harvestmen, The Biology of Opiliones. Harvard University Press, 597 pp.
  • Briggs, T.S. & D. Ubick. 2007. Pentanychidae. pp.214-217. in R. Pinto-da-Rocha, G. Machado, & G. Giribet. (eds.) Harvestmen, The Biology of Opiliones. Harvard University Press, 597 pp.
  • Ubick, D. 2007. Phalangodidae. pp.217-221. in R. Pinto-da-Rocha, G. Machado, & G. Giribet. (eds.) Harvestmen, The Biology of Opiliones. Harvard University Press, 597 pp.
  • Liu, P., H.-M. Yan, C. Griswold, & D. Ubick. 2007. Three new species of the genus Clubiona from China (Araneae: Clubionidae). Zootaxa, 1456:63-68. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 2007. On a new species group in the spider genus Socalchemmis (Araneae, Tengellidae). Journal of Arachnology, 35:205-207. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 2007. A revision of the spider genus Zorocrates (Araneae, Zorocratidae). American Museum Novitates, 3579:1-44. PDF
  • Andriamalala, D. & D.Ubick. 2007. New species of the spider genus Platyoides from Madagascar (Araneae: Trochanteriidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth Series, 58(16):349-359. PDF
  • Tang, G., C.M. Yin, X.J. Peng, D. Ubick & C. Griswold. 2007. Five crab spiders of the genus Lysiteles from Yunnan Province, China (Araneae: Thomisidae). Zootaxa, 1480: 57-68. PDF
  • Tang, G., X.J. Peng, C. Griswold, D. Ubick & C.M. Yin. 2008. Four crab spiders of the family Thomisidae (Araneae, Thomisidae) from Yunnan, China. Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica, 33(2): 241-247. PDF
  • Platnick, N.I. & D. Ubick. 2008. A revision of the endemic Californian spider genus Titiotus Simon (Araneae, Tengellidae). American Museum Novitates, 3608:1-34.
  • Tang, G., C.M. Yin, X.J. Peng, D. Ubick, & C. Griswold. 2008. The crab spiders of the genus Lysiteles from Yunnan Province, China (Araneae: Thomisidae). Zootaxa 1742: 1–41. PDF
  • Ubick, D. & T.S. Briggs. 2008. The harvestman family Phalangodidae. 6. Revision of the Sitalcina complex (Opiliones: Laniatores). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth Series, 59:1-108. PDF
  • Tang, G., C.M. Yin, D. Ubick, X.J. Peng. 2008. Two new species of the crab spider genus Talaus (Araneae: Thomisidae) from Yunnan Province, China. Zootaxa 1815: 62–68. PDF

Contact

  • Darrell Ubick
  • Curatorial Assistant
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5308 (direct)