Arachnids of North Carolina
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View Phalangodidae Members: NC Records

Theromaster brunneus (Banks, 1902) - No Common Name


Taxonomy
Order: OPILIONESSuborder: LaniatoresSuperfamily: TravunioideaFamily: Phalangodidae                                                                                 
Comments: One of two species in this genus, both of which occur in the East (Kury, 2003) but with only brunneus recorded in North Carolina. Placed in the Travnuiidae by Kury (2002), which includes Erebomaster but not Bishopella, which is retained within the Phalangodidae.
Species Comment: The type locality for this species is the "valley of the Black Mountains" in Yancey County, where W. Beutenmuller made several collecting trips in the late 1800s. This species was described by N. Banks (1902) -- who joined Beuntemuller on one of these trips -- as Scotolemon brunnea.
Identification
Online Description/Photos: BugGuide Images, iNaturalist, Wikipedia, GBIFTechnical Description: Briggs (1969)
Comments: A minute, yellowish-brown Armored Harvestman. The coloration of the body ranges from yellowish-brown to dark brown (Banks, 1902; Briggs, 1969). The eyes are rimmed with black and the area posterior to the ocular tubercle can be heavily mottled (Briggs, 1969).
Total Length: 2.34 mm, males (Briggs, 1969)Adult ID: identifiable by photo
Structural Features: The scute of the abdomen is smooth, without obvious sutures; this contrasts with Erebomaster acanthinus, where the scute is divided (Briggs, 1969). Tarsus of the palps has three prominent pairs of spines. The legs are scabrous and the rear margin of the abdominal tergites are tuberculate. The chelicerae in the males have two forward projecting tubercles; those of the females are smooth.
Structural photos
Distribution in North Carolina
Comments: This species appears to be restricted to the mountains, where it has been especially widely collected, considering its dwelling deep in the leaf litter
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Adult phenology:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Deep, wet leaf litter, including that under Rhododendrons. Records come from over 6000' at Grandfather Mountain down to below 2000' at Bat Cave.
Observation Methods: Best found by sifting leaf litter or through use of Berlese funnels
Abundance/Frequency:
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: [GNR] [S3S4]
State Protection: Arachnids are not protected under state law, although permits are needed to collect them in State Parks and other public and private nature preserves
Comments: This is one of the most frequently collected of our montane, cryophilic harvestmen and has a fairly extensive range in the North Carolina mountains. Nonetheless, its habitat specializations probably make it vulnerable to the dessicating impacts associated with clear-cutting and it may be susceptible to both the heating and drying effects of global climate change. While populations currently appear to be fairly numerous and widespread, this species along with the other cryophilic biota of the mountains should be monitored for downward changes.

Photo Gallery for Theromaster brunneus

Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Avery Co.
Comment: leaf litter
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Avery Co.
Comment: leaf litter
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Watauga Co.
Comment: 1 male, 1 female. Sifted from mixture of litter, soil, and moss
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Watauga Co.
Comment: 1 male, 1 female. Sifted from mixture of litter, soil, and moss
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Watauga Co.
Comment: 1 male, 1 female. Sifted from mixture of litter, soil, and moss
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Avery Co.
Comment: Collected in Rhododendron leaf litter