Monday, January 23, 2017

A new hermit crab: Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae

Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae, Image from publication
Hermit crabs belong to the crustacean superfamily Paguroidea. There are about 1,100 known species of them. The abdomen of those crabs is soft, unlike the hard, calcified ones seen in other crabs. In order to protect it from predators these crabs salvage empty seashells and carry them around. When in danger they can retract their whole body in it.

A new species of hermit crab was found off Bonaire, an island off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean. The new species was named to acknowledge the efforts of the collector, photographer and environmentalist, Ellen Muller, who when informed of the intended honor, preferred that the name of her granddaughter, Molly Muller, be used, in the hopes to inspire her to continue the tradition of protecting the fragile marine diversity in Bonaire.

For the experts: A new secretive, yet brightly colored hermit crab species of the family Paguridae, Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae sp. n., is fully described based on specimens from the reefs of Bonaire, Lesser Antilles, southern Caribbean Sea. Populations of this new species were discovered and photographed in the Bonaire National Marine Park under a large coral ledge, at a depth of 13.7 m, living in crevices known by scuba divers to serve as den to a pair of “flaming reef lobsters” Enoplometopus antillensis, or a “broad banded moray” Channomuraena vittata. This new species is only the second species of Pylopaguropsis Alcock, 1905 known from the western Atlantic, the 20th named worldwide, and belongs in the teevana group of species of the genus. It is remarkably similar, and herein considered geminate, to the tropical eastern Pacific congener, P. teevana (Boone, 1932), the two being characterized and uniquely different from all other species of the genus, by the striking and deeply excavated, scoop-like ventral surface of the chela of the right cheliped. Minor differences separate this new species from P. teevana in the relative length of the antennal acicles (exceeding the corneas versus not exceeding the corneas in P. teevana); dorsal armature of the right chela (smooth or with scattered minute tubercles versus with numerous small tubercles in P. teevana); surface shape of the lateral face of the dactyl of right pereopod 3 (evenly convex versus flattened in P. teevana); and coloration (red bright red stripes versus brown stripes in P. teevana). The highly visible color pattern of bright red stripes on white background typical of decapods known to have cleaning symbioses with fish, dense setation on the flagella of the antennae, and preference for a crevicular habitat, combined with brief in situ nocturnal observations, suggests the possibility that P. mollymullerae sp. n. engages in “cleaner” activities or functions as a “den commensal” with moray eels. The morphology and possible meaning of the observed behavior is discussed. A tabular summary of the distribution, habitat, and published information on all species of Pylopaguropsis is presented. Supplemental photographs and a video of live P. mollymullerae sp. n. are included.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A new firefly: Araucariocladus hiems

Fireflies or sometimes named lightning bugs are no flies. They represent a family of beetles (Lampyridae) whose members have the ability to use bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey. They produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale red. So far about 2000 firefly species have been found and described.

The latest addition was found in the rain forests of Brazil. Both the genus and the species name are new.  The genus name Araucariocladus was derived from Araucaria, the genus name of the Brazilian pine, and cladus, which is Greek for division, referring to characteristic antennal branches. The species name was derived from the Latin word for winter because remarkably the species occurs during the subtropical winter of the Southeastern Atlantic Rainforest.

For the experts: Here we describe Araucariocladus hiems gen. et sp. nov. (Lampyridae: Amydetinae), a firefly species endemic to high montane forests, and occurring during June, a relatively cool and dry month in the Southeastern Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. We tentatively place it in Psilocladina McDermott, and discuss the limitations of its classification. We also provide illustrations of key structural features of the new taxa and discuss its affinities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A new poison-dart frog: Ameerega shihuemoy

Poison dart frogs are a group of frogs in the family Dendrobatidae which are native to tropical Central and South America. These little frogs often have brightly colored bodies and the coloration is correlated with their toxicity. The more colourful the more poisonous. A new species was found in Peru.

The species name shihuemoy corresponds to the Harakmbut word for "poison dart frog". The local Amarakaeri from Amazonian Peru coexist with the new species and their language belongs to the Harakmbut linguistic group.

For the experts: We describe and name a new species of poison-dart frog from the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Manu Province, Madre de Dios Department, Peru; specifically within the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and the buffer zone of Manu National Park. Ameerega shihuemoy sp. nov. is supported by a unique combination of characters: black dorsum with cream to light orange dorsolateral lines, blue belly reticulated with black, and the lack of axillary, thigh and calf flash marks. Within Ameerega, it shares the general appearance of A. altamazonica, A. boliviana, A. hahneli, A. ignipedis, A. petersi, A. picta, A. pongoensis, A. pulchripecta, A. simulans, A. smaragdina, and A. yungicola; each possessing a granular black to brown dorsum, a light labial bar, a conspicuous dorsolateral line running from the snout to the groin, and a metallic blue belly and underside of arms and hind limbs. From most of these species it can be distinguished by lacking flash marks on the axillae, thighs, and calves (absent in only A. boliviana and A. smaragdina, most A. petersi, and some A. pongoensis), by having bright cream to orange dorsolateral stripes (white, intense yellow, or green in all other species, with the exception of A. picta), and by its blue belly reticulated with black (bluish white and black in A. boliviana, green and blue with black marbling in A. petersi, and green and blue lacking black marbling in A. smaragdina). Its mating call also shows clear differences to morphologically similar species, with a lower note repetition rate, longer space between calls, and higher fundamental and dominant frequencies. Phylogenetic analyses based on the 16S mitochondrial rRNA fragment also support the distinctiveness of the new species and suggest that A. shihuemoy is most closely related to Ameerega macero, A. altamazonica, A. rubriventris, and two undescribed species (Ameerega sp. from Porto Walter, Acre, Brazil, and Ameerega sp. from Ivochote, Cusco, Peru). Genetically, the new species is most similar to the sympatric A. macero, from which it clearly differs in characteristics of its advertisement call and coloration. The new species is found near rocky streams during the dry season and near temporary water bodies during the rainy season. Tadpoles are found in lentic water along streams, or in shallow, slow-moving streams. Given its small geographic range, we recommend that A. shihuemoy should be considered 'Near threatened' (NT) according to IUCN Red List criteria.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A new catfish: Oreoglanis hponkanensis

The fish family Sisoridae belongs to the catfishes. These exclusively Asian catfishes live in fast-moving waters and often have adaptations that allow them to adhere to objects in their habitats, e.g. a thoracic adhesive apparatus or plaited paired fins.

The new species was found during a survey at the Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary in Myanmar. The authors named the species after the sanctuary.

For the experts: During a survey of the Mali Hka River drainage in Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary in December 2015, a new species was collected and is described herein as Oreoglanis hponkanensis. It is a member of the O. siamensis species group and can be distinguished from its congeners in having a unique combination of the following characters: lower lip with median notch and posterior margin entire, caudal fin emarginate, nasal barbel reaching about half the distance to eye, tip of maxillary barbel rounded, posterior margin of maxillary barbel entire, absence of pale elliptical patches on sides of body below adipose fin, absence of patch on base of first dorsal fin ray, caudal fin brown with two round, bright orange patches in middle, branched dorsal fin rays 5, branched anal fin rays 2, vertebrae 40, pectoral fin surpassing pelvic fin origin, pelvic fin length 21–26% SL, caudal peduncle length 25–33% SL, caudal peduncle depth 3–5% SL, adipose fin base length 34–39% SL, and dorsal to adipose distance 12–16% SL.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A new asteraceae: Espeletia praesidentis

Image from publication
A new plant species from Northeastern Colombia has been named Espeletia praesidentis, in honour of efforts made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to build peace in his country after over five decades of conflict.

The new species discovered is endemic to Colombia and is only known from the Páramo de Presidente, at elevations of 3400-3600 m. Although a large population of several hundreds of individuals growing in the grasslands of the páramo were observed, this particular area is not under any protection, and there are signs of grazing activity. In addition, the proximity of extensive potato plantations suggests that the species is probably critically endangered.

For the experts: A new species of Espeletia from the Páramo de Presidente in northeastern Colombia is described. The species is named Espeletia praesidentis after the name of the páramo, and it is dedicated to the President Juan Manuel Santos, for his persistent efforts in working for peace for Colombia. The new species is closely related to Espeletia dugandii, but differs in the shape and colour of the leaves and arrangements of the capitulescences. A large population was found, but its total extension is yet to be determine.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A new basslet: Tosanoides obama

Tosanoides obama - Image from publication

This might be old news to some already but I am catching up on my holiday vacation.


A new fish of the large family Serranidae was first discovered and collected on a dive to 90 m at the Kure Atoll, 1900 km northwest of Honolulu. Kure is the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands, and is the highest latitude coral atoll in the world. Deep coral reefs at depths of 50 to 150 m, in the so-called "Twilight Zone" (also known as mesophotic coral ecosystems), are among the most poorly explored of all marine ecosystems. Located deeper than divers using conventional scuba gear can safely venture, these reefs represent a new frontier for coral-reef research.

The new species was named obama in honor of Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States, in recognition of his efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment, particularly through his decision to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument several weeks after the discovery of this new species in this region.

For the experts: The new species Tosanoides obama is described from two specimens collected at a depth of 90–92 m off Kure Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It differs from the other two species of this genus in life color and in certain morphological characters, such as number of pored lateral-line scales, pectoral-fin rays, snout length, anterior three dorsal-fin spine lengths, dorsal-fin profile, and other characters. There are also substantial genetic differences from the other two species of Tosanoides (d ≈ 0.10 in mtDNA cytochrome oxidase I). The species is presently known only from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A new bee: Triepeolus cecilyae

The family Apidae is the largest group of bees containing at least 5,700 species of the total known 20,000 of them. The family includes some of the most commonly known bees, such as bumblebees and honey bees, but also lesser known stingless bees (also used for honey production), carpenter bees, orchid bees, and cuckoo bees. The latter comprise of some bee species which show so-called kleptoparasitic behaviour which means they are laying their eggs in the nests of other bees, reminiscent of the behavior of cuckoo birds.

Today's new species,  Triepeolus cecilyae, belongs to this group of bees and was found in Chile. It was named after Cecily Bradshaw, a friend and advocate for, and supporter of, bee research who also happened to be a former student of mine in one of my online courses.

For the experts: Triepeolus cecilyae Packer, new species, and Doeringiella mamabee Packer, new species, both from the far north of Chile are described and illustrated. Both are known from single
male specimens despite considerable search effort in the area of their provenance. The former
species is the first of the genus recorded from Chile. A key to the three species of Doeringiella
Holmberg known from Chile is provided. Caupolicana dimidiata Herbst is recorded as a likely
host of D. gigas (Spinola).