The Checklist of the Spiders of Iran (Arachnida: Araneae) --- Version 2019


According to the literature, spiders (Araneae) are one of the most specious orders of animals, with approximately 48,000 described, extant species in 117 families (World Spider Catalog, 2018). This taxon ranks sixth in the animal kingdom in the terms of the number of the described species and places after the orders Coleoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and Hemiptera (Coddington & Levi, 1991). As spiders are not studied thoroughly, estimation of their total diversity is very difficult. On the basis of recorded data in the Palaearctic region, spiders have been relatively well-studied in Europe with at least 4,800 species (Helsdingen, 2011) and Japan with at least 1,500 species (Ono,  2009), while areas such as south America, Africa, the pacific region and the Middle East are very poorly known (Coddington & Levi, 1991). Checklists for spiders of European countries are available in Fauna Europea (Helsdingen, 2011), and checklists for Russia and the former USSR, Caucasian countries, Turkey and Iraq were presented by Mikhailov (2013), Otto (2014), Bayram, Kunt & Danışman (2014) and Zamani & El-Hennawy (2016), respectively.

The first recorded observation of Iranian spiders probably dates back to Olearius (1656), where he reported the observations of “tarantulas” (=large sized wolf spiders) in the environs of Kashan, Isfahan Province. Later, another such observation was reported by Schöngast (1668) from Kerman Province, and also Kitto (1838) noted the common occurrence of “tarantulas” all over the country, but considering the brief description of their morphology provided by him, he was most probably referring to solifugids. Still, the first scientific collection of Iranian spiders was probably carried out by Eugen von Keyserling and Theophil Bienert in 1859. Their material is housed in the Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg (ZISP) which was later examined by Logunov, Marusik & Mozaffarian (2002). The first taxonomic work on the spider fauna of Iran was published by Simon (1874a). In this publication, he described Sparassus doriae (Sparassidae) from Tehran, based on material collected in 1862–63 by Italian naturalist Giacomo Doria (1840–1913). The other main publication in this period was published by Thorell (1881), dealing with a new species of the genus Artema (Pholcidae). After the beginning of the 20th century, some scattered records were published by Pocock (1903), Werner (1936) and Pavlovsky (1942). Also, some expeditions were made in this period by American, Russian and European zoologists (e.g. Fillipovich in 1904, Kirichenko in 1914). One of the main contributions to the spider fauna of Iran was made by German arachnologist Carl Friedrich Roewer (1881–1963), who published two papers on the arachnofauna of Iran (Roewer, 1955, 1959). In these papers, he described several new species and new records from the country. However, some of the species described by Roewer have never been studied and revised since their first description. The other main collection from the country was conducted in 1973–1975 by the Swiss arachnologist, Antoine Senglet. His material is housed in Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève (MHNG) and recently, some papers on the Iranian species were published on the basis of this collection (e.g. Senglet, 2008; Tanasevitch, 2008; Moradmand & Jäger, 2011). The results of these expeditions were published as several faunistic and taxonomic papers (e.g. Roewer, 1955, 1959; Brignoli, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1982; Senglet, 1974; Wesołowska, 1986; Proszynski, 1992; Ovtsharenko, Levy & Platnick, 1994; Saaristo & Tanasevitch, 1995; Logunov, 1999, 2001a, 2001b; Logunov & Marusik, 1999, 2000; Logunov, Marusik & Mozaffarian, 2002).

The first paper published on spiders of Iran by an Iranian researcher is probably that of Zini (1958), which mainly dealt with the distribution and biology of the Mediterranean widow spider, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus (Rossi, 1790) in this country. Rather recently, more Iranian students and researchers have continued to study the spider fauna of Iran, sometimes in cooperation with international scientists (e.g. Mozaffarian, 2000; Mozaffarian & Tirgari, 2000; Ghahari & Marusik, 2009; Moradmand & Jäger, 2011; Mirshamsi, Zamani & Marusik, 2016; Zamani, 2016). More noticeably, some important studies dealing with the local familial-level revisions have been recently published (e.g. Salticidae: Logunov, Marusik & Mozaffarian, 2002; Linyphiidae: Tanasevitch, 2008, 2009; Sparassidae: Moradmand & Jäger, 2011, 2012; Hersiliidae: Marusik & Fet, 2009; Mirshamsi, Marusik & Jamili, 2013; Mirshamsi, Zamani & Marusik, 2016; Filistatidae: Marusik & Zamani, 2015a, 2015b, 2016), and an ongoing large-scale faunistic series is still in progress, of which five parts have been published so far (Zamani et al., 2014b, 2015, 2016, 2017b, 2018a).


The political boundaries of Iran include the largest part of the Iranian Plateau which is located in the transition zone of three main zoogeographic regions: western Palaearctic, Afrotropical and Oriental regions. This region completely encloses a short section of the orogenic belts between the Arabian- African unit and the Asian block. Geological history and paleogeographical location of the Iranian Plateau and its topographic and climatic conditions present a wide collection of varied habitats which house a very rich biota (Berberian & King, 1981; Zehzad, Kiabi & Madjnoonian, 2002).

The Iranian Plateau

The Iranian Plateau is a geological formation in Western and Central Asia. It is a part of the Eurasian Plate, wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, placed between the Zagros Mountains in the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dagh Mountains in the north and northeast, the Hormuz Strait and Persian Gulf in the south and the Indus River of Pakistan in the east. It includes the greater part of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, covering about 3,700,000 km2. The Iranian Plateau extends about 2,500 km from west to east and about 1,500 km from north to south. The northern parts of the Iranian Plateau lie within the southern parts of the former USSR (Turkmeno-Khorasan Mountains), while its western regions are in Iraq. In spite of being called a "plateau", it is far from being flat and contains several mountain ranges, the highest peak being Damavand in the Alborz Mountains at 5610 m a.s.l., and the lowest region being the Lut basin in the east of Kerman Province in eastern Iran, falling 300 m below sea levels.

The climate of the Iranian Plateau is dry and continental to subtropical, with hot summers and relatively cold winters in the north, and tropical with hot summers and warm winters in the south. There are seven desert plains and depressions in the Iranian Plateau: Dasht-e Kavir in Central Iran; Dasht-e Lut, Sistan and Jazmurian depressions in the southeast; Khuzestan Plain in the southwest; Moghan steppe in the northwest and the Turkman-Sahra steppe in the northeast (Zehzad, Kiabi & Madjnoonian, 2002).

Zagros Mountains

The Zagros Mountains form the largest mountain range which shaped the south and southwestern arcs of the Iranian Plateau in Iran and Iraq. This mountain range has a total length of 1,500 km, begins in northwestern Iran and roughly corresponds to Iran's western border, and spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau, ending at the Strait of Hormuz in south. The Hazaran massif in the Kerman Province (Iran) shapes an eastern outlier of the range and the Jebal Barez reaching into Sistan & Baluchistan Province.