Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Two new wrasses: Cirrhilabrus rubeus and Cirrhilabrus africanus

Cirrhilabrus rubeus
The fish family of the wrasses or Labridae is a particular large group of marine fishes. It contains over 600 species of mostly smaller (<20cm) and often colourful fish that are associated with coral reefs or rocky shores. Juveniles of some species hide among the tentacles of mushroom coral.

Wrasses are carnivores, feeding on a wide range of small invertebrates. Many smaller species follow the feeding trails of larger fish, picking up invertebrates disturbed by their passing. A lot of labrid species are common in both public and home aquaria.

Cirrhilabrus africanus
Two new species have been described by a colleague of many years. Both new species are from the Indian Ocean, one (C. rubeus) from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the other from the east African coast (C. africanus). The first species was named for its bright red color and the second for its origin.

For the experts: The western and central Indian Ocean population of the fairy wrasse, Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis, is here split into three allopatric species: the type species from the Red Sea; C. rubeus, n. sp., a new central Indian Ocean species from Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and C. africanus n. sp., a new east African coastal species. The three species are mainly differentiated by the color patterns of terminal-phase (TP) males. The two new species diverge from C. rubriventralis in the sequence of the barcode-mtDNA COI marker by 2.6% and 0.5%, respectively (pairwise distance; 2.7% and 0.5% K2P distance). The Indian Ocean species complex made up of the 8 spike-fin species allied with C. rubriventralis is now one of the larger species complexes among labrid reef fishes, showing an interesting pattern of allopatric sibling species dividing up the region, as well as the occurrence of localized microendemic species in Indonesia and the Timor Sea. The species complex includes some species that share mtDNA lineages (phenovariant species), as well as others up to 2.9% divergent in sequence. A neighbor-joining tree and genetic distance matrix is presented for 7 of the 8 known species in the complex. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

A new nematode: Protorhabditis hortulana

Nematodes are small worms that measure around 1mm in length and live freely in soil or water. They feed on bacteria, single-cell algae, fungi or other nematodes; they can also live as parasites of other animals or plants. But the most striking fact about them is their ability to adapt.

Scientists from the Andalusian Nematology Group at the University of Jaén focused on studying how a type of worm usually associated to damp environments has adapted to life in dry ecosystems in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. This gave rise to the discovery of a new species living only in these extreme environments. The scientists now think they could use it to detect processes of desertification.

The name of the new species was derived from the Latin word hortus, meaning orchard and referring to the habitat of which the species was collected from.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Protorhabditis is described from agricultural areas in the South East of the Iberian Peninsula. Protorhabditis hortulana sp. n. is distinguished by its very small body length (189–222 μm in females), lateral field with two longitudinal wings, lip region rounded with fused lips, stoma 10–13 μm long lacking glottoid apparatus, pharynx with distinctly swollen metacorpus, excretory pore and deirids at basal bulb level, female reproductive system outstretched and spermatheca with self-sperm, vulva slightly postequatorial (V=54–62), female tail conoid (14–19 μm, c= 11.7–17.6, c’= 1.6–2.4) with finely rounded tip, and males unknown. Description, measurements and illustrations, including SEM photographs are provided. A compendium of species of Protorhabditis is also given and illustrated.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A new loach: Eidinemacheilus proudlovei

The discovery of cave-dwelling fish (and other cave organisms) is usually a rare event. Some of my colleagues have a very good explanation for this: The reason for sparse records of subterranean fishes might be related to the aridity of the area and the rarity of caves. While subterranean fishes are often called “cave fishes”, not all of them are strictly bound to caves. Entering caves is just the way humans approach the underground world and gain access to the macroscopic part of its biodiversity. This means that there is the possibility that many more troglomorphic organisms exist, which have never been observed by humans due to the lack of human-sized openings between the hypogean and epigean worlds. 

However, sometimes we are lucky and find an exciting new species such as the new subterranean loach found in Iraqi Kurdistan. The species was named after Graham Proudlove (Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester), a world expert on subterranean fishes. The fishes were actually washed out from an aquifer and ended up in a small river. Here some footage - pretty exciting as it is obviously very rare to see these fishes under normal light conditions:


For the experts: Eidinemacheilus proudlovei, new species, is described from subterranean waters in the Little Zab River drainage in Iraqi Kurdistan. After the discovery of E. smithi in 1976, E. proudlovei is the second troglomorphic nemacheilid loach found in the Middle East and the second species placed in Eidinemacheilus. Eidinemacheilus proudlovei is distinguished from E. smithi by having 8+8 or 8+7 branched caudal-fin rays, no adipose keel on the caudal peduncle, enlarged jaws and a fully developed head canal system. It furthers differs substantially in its DNA barcode (>8% K2P distance) from all other nemacheilid loaches in the Middle East, Europe and Western India.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Two new palpigrades: Eukoenenia jequitinhonha and Eukoenenia cavatica

Eukoenenia cavatica
A palpigrade, also known as a microwhip scorpion, is a distant relative of the spiders, mites, and scorpions. They are tiny organisms not larger than 3 mm and live in wet tropical and subtropical soils or caves and underground spaces. They need a damp environment to survive, and they always hide from light, so they are commonly found in the moist earth under buried stones and rocks.

Both new species were found in caves in Brazil. One was named after the Jequitinhonha river, in whose drainage basin the animals were found. The other species name is Latin and  stands for living in a cave.

For the experts: Two new species of troglobiotic Brazilian palpigrades are described: Eukoenenia jequitinhonha sp. n., found in Lapa do Córrego do Vieira cave (Caraí, Minas Gerais) and E. cavatica sp. n., found in Cazanga cave (Arcos, Minas Gerais). The importance of documenting the occurrence of troglobiotic species, even if they are represented by only a single specimen, is discussed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A new ant: Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri

Image from original publication
Lenomyrmex is a small genus with only six known species. They are rarely collected and occur from Costa Rica to Ecuador. All species have elongated mandibles which suggests that they are specialist predators on an unknown prey. With our newly added species we can't answer that question either but we know who likes to eat these ants as it was discovered in stomach content samples of the dendrobatid frog, Oophaga sylvatica.  The new species was named in honor of the world renowned ant researcher Bert Hölldobler on the occasion of his 80th birthday. 

For the experts: The ant genus Lenomyrmex was recently discovered and described from mid to high elevation rainforests in southern Central and northwestern South America. Lenomyrmex currently consists of six described species, which are only rarely collected. Here, we add a new species, Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri sp. n., which was discovered in a stomach content sample of the dendrobatid frog, Oophaga sylvatica, from northwestern Ecuador. Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri can be distinguished from other species in the genus by the presence of a well-developed petiolar node, whereas in all other species the node of the petiole is ill-defined. In addition to the shape of the petiolar node, L. hoelldobleri can be distinguished from the morphologically similar L. costatus by (i) the presence of the metanotal suture, (ii) the direction of the striae on dorsum of propodeum (concentrically transverse in L. hoelldobleri, longitudinal in L. costatus), (iii) the finely striate dorsum of postpetiole, (iv) its larger size, and (v) distinctly darker coloration. We also describe the gyne of Lenomyrmex foveolatus. This collection record from northwestern Ecuador extends the geographic distribution of L. foveolatus 400 km south from its previous record in Colombia. A revised taxonomic key to the workers and gynes of all described Lenomyrmex species is provided. We discuss the taxonomic relationship of L. hoelldobleri to other species in the genus and its biology based on the limited information that is currently available. Finally, we briefly discuss the feeding ecology of dendrobatid poison frogs in the context of providing a valuable source of rarely collected and cryptic new ant species.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A new stonefly: Neoperla chebalinga

Image from publication
Plecoptera are an order of insects, commonly known as stoneflies. There are approximately 3,500 species found worldwide, except for Antarctica. Almost all species of stoneflies develop as nymphs in clean, moving water and are intolerant of water pollution. Their presence in a stream or still water is therefore a good indicator of excellent water quality. Once hatched from the eggs, stonefly nymphs usually complete their development within a year. Some larger species may spend two to three years as nymphs before crawling out of the water as adults. 

Once they emerge from the water, adult stoneflies will usually spend their lives within close proximity to the water’s edge. Unlike the outstretched wings of dragonflies and damselflies, stoneflies fold their wings neatly against their backs when at rest and are generally not strong fliers.

A new species has been discovered in China and it was named after the area it was found, Chebaling Nature Reserve. 

For the experts: A new species of the Neoperla clymene group (Plecoptera, Perlidae), N. chebalinga sp. n. from Guangdong Province of southern China is described, illustrated, and compared with related taxa. The new species is characterized by the slender aedeagal tube, strongly sclerotized dorsally, and weakly sclerotized ventrally with an upcurved, medial, finger-like membranous lobe. Additionally the aedeagal sac gradually tapers to a blunt apex with a dorsoapical patch of spines. A supplementary description of the female of N. mnong Stark, 1987 from Guangdong Province, China is also given.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A new bee: Anthophora pueblo

Nearly 40 years ago a researcher discovered bees nesting in sandstone at two sites in Utah's San Rafael Desert. He collected samples of the nests and reared the inhabitants to emergence. But his work was stored away and largely untouched until a colleague began examining the samples a few years ago and discovered five new nesting sites ranging from Ancestral Puebloan sandstone cliff dwellings at Colorado's Mesa Verde and natural formations in southern Utah and California's Death Valley.

Our new species goes to great effort to excavate nests in hard sandstone. It is believed that it also uses nearby water for excavation as the hard substrate causes wear of the mandibles.

This species is named for its use of sandstone as a nesting substrate, reminiscent to the skilled use of sandstone by the Ancestral Puebloan people.

For the experts: Humanity has long been fascinated by animals with apparently unfavorable lifestyles. Nesting habits are especially important because they can limit where organisms live, thereby driving population, community, and even ecosystem dynamics. The question arises, then, why bees nest in active termite mounds or on the rim of degassing volcanoes, seemingly preferring such hardship. Here, we present a new bee species that excavates sandstone nests, Anthophora (Anthophoroides) pueblo Orr (described in Supplemental Information, published with this article online), despite the challenges already inherent to desert life. Ultimately, the benefits of nesting in sandstone appear to outweigh the associated costs in this system.