Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Two new triclads: Girardia desiderensis and Girardia pierremartini

Triclads are a group of free-living flatworms in the sub-division Turbellaria. They are also known as planarians, although this common name is used many other free-living platyhelminthes. 

Dugesiidae is a family of freshwater Tricladida with a global dsitribution. They can be found pretty much everywhere except Antarctica. According to some molecular analyses, Dugesiidae is the sister group of land planarians.

Today's new species were found in caves in Brazil. Girardia desiderensis was named after its type-locality, the region of São Desidério, with one of the largest hydrogeological systems in South America. The name Girardia pierremartini honors the Grupo Pierre Martin de Espeleologia for numerous discoveries concerning caves in Brazil.

For the experts: The diversity of freshwater triclads in the Neotropical region is considered to be low, but extensive areas of South America remain almost unexplored. Herein we describe two cave-dwelling, new species of Girardia, one from a transition zone of the Cerrado and Caatinga phytophysiognomies and the other from the Cerrado phytophysiognomy. The species from the Cerrado-Caatinga transition is a troglobite, eyeless and whitish; the species from the Cerrado area is possibly a troglophile, since it shows heavily pigmented body and eyes. Each species is easily recognized by a unique combination of features in its external morphology and copulatory apparatus. The two new species of Girardia show a restricted distribution, even the troglophile, and occur in caves without legal protection. Therefore, they must be considered as vulnerable organisms in a conservation context.

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