Matjaz Kuntner

Matjaz Kuntner
National Institute of Biology - Nacionalni inštitut za biologijo | NIB · Department of Organisms and Ecosystems Research

PhD

About

240
Publications
93,265
Reads
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4,467
Citations
Introduction
Evolutionary biology, ecology, integrative zoology, phylogenetics, systematics, comparative genomics, phenotypic evolution, sexual selection, biogeography, global change biology, and biology of spiders.
Additional affiliations
September 2017 - present
University of Ljubljana
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
August 2017 - present
National Institute of Biology
Position
  • Scientific Councillor
July 2011 - present
Hubei University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
January 1999 - January 2005
George Washington University
Field of study
  • Biological Sciences
October 1991 - May 1998
University of Ljubljana
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (240)
Article
Full-text available
Instances of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) provide the context for rigorous tests of biological rules of size evolution, such as Cope's rule (phyletic size increase), Rensch's rule (allometric patterns of male and female size), as well as male and female body size optima. In certain spider groups, such as the golden orbweavers (Nephilidae), extreme...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual size dimorphism is one of the most striking animal traits, and among terrestrial animals, it is most extreme in certain spider lineages. The most extreme sexual size dimorphism (eSSD) is female biased. eSSD itself is probably an epiphenomenon of gendered evolutionary drivers whose strengths and directions are diverse. We demonstrate that eSS...
Article
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Aim A wholistic biogeographical reconstruction should combine a phylogeny with specifics of organismal biology, plate tectonics and consequent probabilities of historic dispersal events. Here, we demonstrate this approach by reconstructing the geographical origin and sequence of intercontinental colonization of the golden orbweaving spiders, a glob...
Article
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Background: A major challenge in biodiversity science is to understand the factors contributing to the variability of species richness -the number of different species in a community or region - among comparable taxonomic lineages. Multiple biotic and abiotic factors have been hypothesized to have an effect on species richness and have been used a...
Article
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Heterogeneity in species diversity is driven by the dynamics of speciation and extinction, potentially influenced by organismal and environmental factors. Here, we explore macroevolutionary trends on a phylogeny of golden orbweavers (spider family Nephilidae). Our initial inference detects heterogeneity in speciation and extinction, with accelerate...
Article
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Natural silks crafted by spiders comprise some of the most versatile materials known. Artificial silks–based on the sequences of their natural brethren–replicate some desirable biophysical properties and are increasingly utilized in commercial and medical applications today. To characterize the repertoire of protein sequences giving silks their bio...
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When sexual conflict selects for reproductive strategies that only benefit one of the sexes, evolutionary arms races may ensue. Female sexual cannibalism is an extreme manifestation of sexual conflict. Here we test two male mating strategies aiming at countering sexual cannibalism in spiders. The “better charged palp” hypothesis predicts male selec...
Article
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With only 43 described stygobionts and only two isopod species the obligate groundwater fauna of Iran, a vast country with over 10% of limestone surface, is inadequately known. Here, we report the discovery of Asellus ismailsezarii sp. nov. from Zagros mountains, the first eyeless and depigmented asellid isopod from Iran. The new species is morphol...
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Cyphalonotus is a poorly studied Old World araneid spider genus of which the phylogenetic proximity remains unknown due to the paucity of morphological and molecular data. We test the phylogenetic placement and the taxonomic composition of Cyphalonotus and place the male and female size variation of Cyphalonotus and related genera in an evolutionar...
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Planetary extinction of biodiversity underscores the need for taxonomy. Here, we scrutinize spider taxonomy over the last decade (2008–2018), compiling 2083 published accounts of newly described species. We evaluated what type of data were used to delineate species, whether data were made freely available, whether an explicit species hypothesis was...
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Adult body size, development time, and growth rates are components of organismal life histories, which crucially influence fitness and are subject to trade-offs. If selection is sex-specific, male and female developments can eventually lead to different optimal sizes. This can be achieved through developmental plasticity and sex-specific developmen...
Article
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Dispersal ability can affect levels of gene flow thereby shaping species distributions and richness patterns. The intermediate dispersal model of biogeography (IDM) predicts that in island systems, species diversity of those lineages with an intermediate dispersal potential is the highest. Here, we tested this prediction on long-jawed spiders (Tetr...
Article
Subterranean environments of Iran are severely understudied. Here, we advance the knowledge of Iranian cave biodiversity by following three goals: (i) to investigate Iranian caves for troglobiotic beetles; (ii) to understand the phylogenetic relationships and estimate the timing of Iranian cave colonization by Duvalius Delarouzée, 1859; and (iii) t...
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Reconstructing biogeographic history is challenging when dispersal biology of studied species is poorly understood, and they have undergone a complex geological past. Here, we reconstruct the origin and subsequent dispersal of coin spiders (Nephilidae: Herennia Thorell), a clade of 14 species inhabiting tropical Asia and Australasia. Specifically,...
Article
The spider major ampullate (MA) silk exhibits high tensile strength and extensibility and is typically a blend of MaSp1 and MaSp2 proteins with the latter comprising glycine–proline–glycine–glycine-X repeating motifs that promote extensibility and supercontraction. The MA silk from Darwin's bark spider ( Caerostris darwini ) is estimated to be two...
Article
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The role of developmental plasticity in the evolution and maintenance of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) has recently received more attention. We experimentally investigated the effects of genetics (pedigree), social cues, and food availability on developmental time and adult male size in Nephilingis cruentata, an extremely female-biased sexually size...
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The existence of consistent individual differences in behavior has been shown in a number of species, and several studies have found observable sex differences in these behaviors, yet their evolutionary implications remain unclear. Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of behavioral traits requires knowledge of their genetic architectures and whe...
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The segmented trapdoor spiders (Liphistiidae) are the sole surviving family of the suborder Mesothelae, which forms the sister lineage to all other living spiders. Liphistiids have retained a number of plesiomorphic traits and their present-day distribution is limited to East and Southeast Asia. Studying this group has the potential to shed light o...
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Few spider species show truly cosmopolitan distributions. Among them is the banded garden spider Argiope trifasciata that is reported from six continents across major climatic gradients and geographical boundaries. In orbweb spiders, such global distributions may be a result of lively dispersal via ballooning. However, wide distributions may also b...
Preprint
Full-text available
Sex differences in behavioral traits are common, but we know little about the role of sexual selection in shaping these traits. Estimating sex-specific genetic effects and cross-sex genetic correlations can provide insights into sex-specific selection and on whether evolution can shape independent expression of behavioral traits across the sexes. W...
Preprint
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The concept of environmental DNA (eDNA) utilizes nucleic acids of organisms directly from the environment. Recent breakthrough studies have successfully detected a wide spectrum of prokaryotic and eukaryotic eDNA from a variety of environments, ranging from ancient to modern, and from terrestrial to aquatic. These numerous sources promise to establ...
Article
Determining species boundaries forms an important foundation for biological research. However, the results of molecular species delimitation can vary with the data sets and methods that are used. Here we use a two-step approach to delimit species in the genus Heptathela, a group of primitively segmented trapdoor spiders that are endemic to Japanese...
Article
Vicariance and dispersal events, combined with intricate global climatic history, have left an imprint on the spatiotemporal distribution and diversity of many organisms. Anelosimus cobweb spiders (Theridiidae), are organisms ranging in behavior from solitary to highly social,l with a cosmopolitan distribution in temperate- to-tropical areas. Their...
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The Caribbean archipelago offers one of the best natural arenas for testing biogeographic hypotheses. The intermediate dispersal model of biogeography (IDM) predicts variation in species richness among lineages on islands to relate to their dispersal potential. To test this model, one would need background knowledge of dispersal potential of lineag...
Article
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We report on a new stygobiont truncatelloid gastropod from the sulfdic ponds of Tashan Cave in the Zagros Mountains of Southwest Iran. The hydrogen sulfde habitat resembles those hitherto known for gastropods from sulfde-rich caves in Romania, Italy and Greece. The newly described genus Trogloiranica n. gen. with a newly described T. tashanica n. s...
Article
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Among the eight extant genera of primitively segmented spiders, family Liphistiidae, two are confined to East Asian islands, Heptathela Kishida, 1923 and Ryuthela Haupt, 1983. In this paper, a taxonomic revision of the genus Heptathela (Heptathelinae) from Kyushu and Ryukyu archipelago, Japan is provided. This study follows a multi-tier species del...
Preprint
Full-text available
Accurate species delimitation impacts all biological inferences, but taxonomic studies often face conflicts within/among datasets or among species delimitation methods. Here we use a multi-tier analytical strategy to handle conflicts in species delimitation on a group of primitively segmented spiders, genus Heptathela endemic to Japanese islands. T...
Article
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Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini) produces giant orb webs from dragline silk that can be twice as tough as other silks, making it the toughest biological material. This extreme toughness comes from increased extensibility relative to other draglines. We show C. darwini dragline-producing major ampullate (MA) glands highly express a novel si...
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Our understanding of spider reproductive biology is hampered by the vast anatomical diversity and difficulties associated with its study. Although authors agree on the two general types of female spider genitalia, haplogyne (plesiomorphic) and entelegyne (apomorphic), our understanding of variation within each group mostly concerns the external gen...
Article
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Selection pressures leading to extreme, female-biased sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in spiders continue to be debated. It has been proposed that males of sexually size dimorphic spiders could be small because gravity constrains adult agility (locomotor abilities). Accordingly, small males should achieve higher vertical climbing speeds and should be...
Article
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Island systems provide excellent arenas to test evolutionary hypotheses pertaining to gene flow and diversification of dispersal-limited organisms. Here we focus on an orbweaver spider genus Cyrtognatha (Tetragnathidae) from the Caribbean, with the aims to reconstruct its evolutionary history, examine its biogeographic history in the archipelago, a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Organismal variation in dispersal ability can directly affect levels of gene flow amongst populations, therefore importantly shaping species distributions and species richness patterns. The intermediate dispersal model of biogeography (IDM) predicts that in island systems, species diversity of those lineages with an intermediate dispersal potential...
Preprint
Full-text available
Island systems provide excellent arenas to test evolutionary hypotheses pertaining to gene flow and diversification of dispersal-limited organisms. Here we focus on an orbweaver spider genus Cyrtognatha (Tetragnathidae) from the Caribbean, with the aims to reconstruct its evolutionary history, describe its biogeographic history in the archipelago,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Instances of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) provide the context for rigorous tests of biological rules of size evolution, such as Copes Rule (phyletic size increase), Renschs Rule (allometric patterns of male and female size), as well as male and female body size optima. In certain spider groups, such as the golden orbweavers (Nephilidae), extreme fe...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Complex topography in continental East Asia mirrors geological events such as formation of rivers and mountains, but to what extent these events drive diversification remains underexplored. We address this question by testing vicariant hypotheses using the primitively segmented spider genera Sinothela and Ganthela, focusing on diversification w...
Article
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A new stenasellid isopod is described from Tashan Cave, Khuzestan Province, south-west Iran, belonging to the genus Stenasellus Dollfus, 1897. The first recorded species of Stenasellidae from Iran, Stenasellustashanicussp. n. , is diagnosed by the presence of antennae with a minute squama bearing paired, long, robust setae; a maxilliped endite with...
Article
Full-text available
Males and females are often subjected to different selection pressures for homologous traits, resulting in sex-specific optima. Because organismal attributes usually share their genetic architectures, sex-specific selection may lead to intralocus sexual conflict. Evolution of sexual dimorphism may resolve this conflict, depending on the degree of c...
Article
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Four species of the primitively segmented spider genus Qiongthela Xu & Kuntner, 2015 collected from Hainan Island, China are diagnosed and described as new to science based on their genital morphology: Q. bawang sp. n. (♀), Q. jianfeng sp. n. (♂♀), Q. yini sp. n. (♀), Q. wuzhi sp. n. (♂♀). Together with the type species of Qiongthela, Q. baishensis...
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Behavioral characteristics importantly shape an animals’ ability to adapt to changing conditions. The notion that behavioral flexibility facilitates exploitation of urban environments has received mixed support, but recent studies propose that between-individual differences are important. We leverage existing knowledge on three species of orb-web s...
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Spider silks are the toughest known biological materials, yet are lightweight and virtually invisible to the human immune system, and they thus have revolutionary potential for medicine and industry. Spider silks are largely composed of spidroins, a unique family of structural proteins. To investigate spidroin genes systematically, we constructed t...
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Europe's obligate cave-dwelling amphibian Proteus anguinus inhabits subterranean waters of the northwestern Balkan Peninsula. Because only fragments of its habitat are accessible to humans, this endangered salamander's exact distribution has been difficult to establish. Here we introduce a quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction-based envi...
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The taxonomic impediment is characterized by dwindling classical taxonomic expertise, and slow pace of revisionary work, thus more rapid taxonomic assessments are needed. Here we pair rapid DNA barcoding methods with swift assessment of morphology in an effort to gauge diversity, establish species limits, and rapidly disseminate taxonomic informati...