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.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A new butterfly fish: Prognathodes basabei

Credit: Greg McFall / NOAA
Butterfly fish are the glamour fish of the coral reefs. They are colorful, beautiful, and have been very well-studied worldwide. Finding a new species is a rare event. Deep coral reefs at depths of 150 to 500 feet, also known as mesophotic coral ecosystems or "the coral-reef twilight zone," are among the most poorly explored of all marine ecosystems. Deeper than most scuba divers can venture, and shallower than most submersible-based exploration, these reefs represent a new frontier for coral reef research and it was here where the new fish was first observed more than 20 years ago and caught for the first time just recently.

The new fish, Prognathodes basabei, is named after Pete Basabe, a veteran local diver from Kona who, over the years, has assisted with the collection of reef fishes for numerous scientific studies and educational displays. Basabe, an experienced deep diver himself, was instrumental in providing support for the dives that produced the first specimen of the fish that now bears his name.

For the experts: A new species of the butterflyfish genus Prognathodes is described from specimens collected at a depth of 55–61 m off Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This species has been observed by mixed-gas divers and from submersibles at depths ranging from 45–187 m throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, with shallower sightings in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and deeper in the Main Hawaiian Islands. It is similar to P. guezei (Maugé and Bauchot 1976) from the western Indian Ocean, and at least one other undescribed species of Prognathodes from Palau, differing from these species in the number of soft dorsal-fin rays, size of head, and body depth. There are also differences in the life color, and a substantial genetic difference from the Palauan species (d » .08 in mtDNA cytochrome oxidase I).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A new aphid: Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis

Image from original publication
Aphids are tiny soft-bodied insects with usually fairly long antenna. They come in different colours, have small eyes, and sucking mouthparts. They move slowly, and don't jump or hop. They are herbivores that suck plant juices out of the leaves, stems, or roots of plants. The juices they drink often have much more sugar than protein. Aphids have to drink so much sugary juice to be able to build their own protein that they excrete a lot of the sugar as they don't need it. The sugary fluid they excrete is called "honeydew", and many other insects feed on it, e.g. ants. They also protect the aphids, and sometimes even keep them in their nests for the winter and put them on new plants in the spring.

Unfortunately, aphids are also one of the worst groups of pests on plants. They damage plants directly by feeding on them, and they carry plant diseases from plant to plant. There can be millions and millions of aphids in a field which can cause a lot of damage to crops.

A new species of aphid has been found in Northern China feeding on Manchurian striped maple (Acer tegmentosum). The species was named after Yichun City where it was found in a forest garden.

For the experts: Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis sp. n. is described from specimens collected in northeast China on Acer tegmentosum (Aceraceae). Yamatochaitophorus is also a new generic record for China. Type specimens are deposited in the National Zoological Museum of China, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (NZMC) and the Natural History Museum, London, UK (BMNH).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A new frog: Pristimantis pulchridormientes

Image from publication
One extraordinarily diverse genus of frogs, Pristimantis, includes 465 recognized species, 131 of them from Peru. The mountainous terrain of the Andes probably led to the evolution of so many different ground-dwelling frogs, in which the eggs develop directly into tiny baby frogs without going through a tadpole phase.

The name of the new species is a composite of two Latin words: pulcher which means beautiful, and dormientes means sleeping. The name is in reference to the chain of mountains located within Tingo María National Park, above the city of Tingo Maria, locally known as Sleeping Beauty (Bella Durmiente), because it looks like a sleeping reclined woman.

For the experts: A new species of Craugastoridae frog encountered from 1000–1700 m in elevation in the premontane forests of the Peruvian central Andes is described. The new species is similar in appearance to many other species of Pristimantis, but is easily distinguishable from these species by having bright red coloration on the groin, posterior surface of thighs, and shanks. The new species is only known for two localities 27 km apart in the Huánuco Region.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A new snake: Geophis lorancai

Geophis lorancai, credit: Miguel Ángel de la Torre Loranca
Colubrid snakes of the genus Geophis comprise 49 currently recognized species widely distributed in Central and South America. These snakes, often called Latin American earth snakes are burrowing snakes which are seldom encountered and, consequently, have been poorly studied. 

The species was named after Biologist Miguel Ángel de la Torre Loranca, who found most of the specimens of the new species in the Sierra de Zongolica.

For the experts: A new species of the Geophis dubius group is described from the mountains of the Sierra Zongolica in west-central Veracruz and the Sierra de Quimixtlán in central-east Puebla. The new species is most similar to G. duellmani and G. turbidus, which are endemic to the mountains of northern Oaxaca and the Sierra Madre Oriental of Puebla and Hidalgo, respectively. However, the new species differs from G. duellmani by the presence of postocular and supraocular scales and from G. turbidus by having a bicolor dorsum. With the description of the new species, the species number in the genus increases to 50 and to 12 in the G. dubius group. Additionally, a key to the species of the G. dubius group is provided.