Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three new mealybugs: Anisococcus granarae, Ferrisia kaki, Pseudococcus rosangelae

Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) is the common name for some among the most destructive plant pests. They are scale insects coated with a powdery mealy waxy secretion; that feed on plant juices. Mealybugs are considered pests on many plants, including apple, avocado, cassava, citrus, coffee, grapes, pineapple, rice and sugarcane. They also very often deposit honeydew on fruits, on which dangerous mold species can develop.

In Southern Brazil some mealybugs species represent a danger to Persimmon trees, an edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. So far ten species of mealybugs have been associated with Persimmon but a new study from Brazil found three species entirely new to science.

One of these species was named after a researcher (Anisococcus granarae), another after the host plant (Ferrisia kaki) , and the last after the mother of one of the authors (Pseudococcus rosangelae).

For the experts: Brazil has the greatest insect diversity in the world; however, little is known about its scale insect species (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha). Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) have been found in at least 50% of persimmon orchards Diospyros kaki L. in the southern part of the country. In this study three new mealybug species on persimmon trees located in the Serra Gaúcha Region, RS, Brazil, namely, Anisococcus granarae Pacheco da Silva & Kaydan, sp. n., Ferrisia kaki Kaydan & Pacheco da Silva, sp. n. and Pseudococcus rosangelae Pacheco da Silva & Kaydan, sp. n. are described. In addition, an identification key for the genera occurring on fruit orchards and vineyards in Brazil is provided, together with illustrations and molecular data for the new species.

Friday, April 22, 2016

12 new scuttle flies

Phoridae is a family of small, hump-backed flies resembling fruit flies. They can often be identified by their escape habit of running rapidly across a surface rather than flying away. This behaviour is a source of one of their alternate names, scuttle fly. About 4,000 species are known in 230 genera.  At 0.4 mm in length, the world's smallest fly is the phorid species Euryplatea nanaknihali.

The species Megaselia scalaris is important in forensic entomology because evidence derived from the lifecycle and behavior of these flies is useful and admissible in court. The species is small in size; this allows them to locate carrion buried within the ground and to locate bodies concealed in coffins.

As part of BioSCAN, a project devoted to exploring the insect diversity in and around the city of Los Angeles, a team of three entomologists report on their latest discovery -- 12 new scuttle fly species of the genus Megaselia

The extensive BioSCAN project is still ongoing thanks to its passionate staff, international collaborators and advisors, as well as the large number of students and volunteers. Being especially grateful for their help, the researchers have named one of the fly species Megaselia studentorum and another one Megaselia voluntariorum

For the experts: Presented are continued results from the BioSCAN Project, an urban biodiversity study sampling primarily from private backyards in Los Angeles, California (USA). Twelve new species of Megaselia (Diptera: Phoridae) are described: M. baileyae, M. friedrichae, M. gonzalezorum, M. joanneae, M. losangelensis, M. phyllissunae, M. pongsaiae, M. shatesae, M. stoakesi, M. studentorum, M. voluntariorum, M. wongae.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A new mouse lemur: Microcebus ganzhorni

The Latin word lemures means "ghost." Malagasy people have traditionally associated these primates with spirits because they are active at night, and perhaps because of their eerie, large-eyed stare. The mouse lemurs live in forests usually in a small female-led group.

Mouse lemurs live in the South and East of Madagascar. As little as 20 years ago, only two species of these small, nocturnal primates were known. The new study that describes our species of the day brings the count of species up to 24 and as all other lemurs they only occur on Madagascar.

The new species was named in honor of the German ecologist Prof. Jörg Ganzhorn who works on ecology and conservation in Madagascar for more than thirty years.

For the experts: Implementation of the coalescent model in a Bayesian framework is an emerging strength in genetically-based species delimitation studies. By providing an objective measure of species diagnosis, these methods represent a quantitative enhancement to the analysis of multi-locus data, and complement more traditional methods based on phenotypic and ecological characteristics. Recognized as two species 20 years ago, mouse lemurs (genus Microcebus) now comprise more than 20 species, largely diagnosed from mtDNA sequence data. With each new species description, enthusiasm has been tempered with scientific skepticism. Here, we present a statistically justified and unbiased Bayesian approach towards mouse lemur species delimitation. We perform validation tests using multi-locus sequence data and two methodologies: (1) reverse-jump Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling to assess the likelihood of different models defined a priori by a guide tree, and (2) a Bayes factor delimitation test that compares different species-tree models without a guide tree. We assess the sensitivity of these methods using randomized individual assignments, which has been used in BPP studies, but not with Bayes factor delimitation tests. Our results validate previously diagnosed taxa, as well as new species hypotheses, resulting in support for three new mouse lemur species. As the challenge of multiple researchers using differing criteria to describe diversity is not unique to Microcebus, the methods used here have significant potential for clarifying diversity in other taxonomic groups. We echo Carstens et al. (2013) in advocating that multiple lines of evidence, including use of the coalescent model, should be trusted to delimit new species.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A new tardigrade: Milnesium sandrae

Tardigrades are one of nature's smallest animals. They are never more than 1.5 mm long, and can only be seen with a microscope. They are commonly known as water bears. To date we have discovered about 900 species. Most feed by sucking the juices from moss, lichens and algae.

Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would kill nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from −272 °C to about 150 °C, pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space.

The new species was found on Hawaii and was named in honour of Dr. Sandra J. McInnes (Cambridge, United Kingdom), who helped the authors with the English in their manuscripts.

For the experts: Two new species of Milnesium are described, Milnesium minutum sp. n. from Sicily and Milnesium sandrae sp. n. from the Hawaiian Archipelago. The body size of Milnesium minutum is the smallest of the known species of the genus. The stylet supports are inserted on the buccal tube at 63–66% of its length and the claws have a [3-3]-[3-3] configuration. Milnesium sandrae has stylet supports inserted on the buccal tube at 58–60.5% of its length, a [3-3]-[3-3] claw configuration, and the percent ratio between the secondary claw and primary claw length on legs I–III (78.6%–85.5%) clearly higher than on legs IV (70.5%–71.4%). With the description of these two new species, the number of species in the genus is increased to 31.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A new plant : Allium ekimianum

The genus Allium is one of the largest plant genera with more than 900 species distributed  in temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. It includes prominent representatives such as onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek and chives. 

The new species adds another one to the 190 known from Turkey. It was found in  Eastern Anatolia. It was named in honor of the now retired Turkish botanist Prof. Dr. Tuna Ekim, who dedicated his life to the flora of Turkey.

For the experts: Allium ekimianum is described here as a new species. This taxon belongs to the genus Allium section Allium and grows in Elazığ Province (East Anatolia, Turkey). It is a narrowly distributed species and morphologically most similar to A. asperiflorum and A. sintenisii, and A. erzincanicum but it is clearly differentiated due to the curved stem, smooth pedicel surfaces, bracteole arrangements at pedicel bases, tepal lengths and surfaces. In this study, a comprehensive description, distribution map of A. ekimianum, identification key, and detailed illustrations are provided for A. ekimianum and related taxa.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A new snapper: Lutjanus sapphirolineatus

Lutjanus is a genus of snappers found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. As most snappers they are predatory fish usually found in tropical and subtropical reefs, and mangrove forests.

The new species from Somalia and Oman is named “sapphirolineatus” with reference to the diagnostic character of four blue stripes on its body.

For the experts: Lutjanus octolineatus (Cuvier 1828), previously considered a junior synonym of Lutjanus bengalensis (Bloch 1790), is shown to be a valid species and lectotypes are designated. Both species are redescribed. The two species have overlapping distributions in the Indian Ocean, but are clearly separable by different dorsal-fin spine counts, blue-striped pattern on the body and the presence or absence of a subocular extension of cheek scales. Lutjanus octovittata (Valenciennes 1830), formerly assigned to synonymy of L. bengalensis, is considered a junior synonym of L. octolineatus based on examination of the holotype. Lutjanus sapphirolineatus n. sp., a species formerly misidentified as L. bengalensis, is described based on 10 specimens from Oman and Somalia. The new species differs from the three species above by a combination of different
characters. Analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (CO1, 603 bp) genetic marker, also strongly supports the validity of each species of the blue-striped snapper complex as distinct.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A new dragon millipede: Desmoxytes laticollis

Millipedes are often found under mulch, piles of dead leaves, or under piles of grass clipping. They thrive in places where the soil stays damp. There they eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find.

In the fall, millipedes often migrate. They move out of their normal habitat. Researchers suspect they may be trying to get ready for winter. However, they have also been seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their habitat. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into our homes.

A good number of millipede species are well adapted to live in caves, e.g. the dragon millipedes of the genus Desmoxytes. It's species show a dragon-like appearance, with strongly wing-, spine- or antler-shaped extensions of the body wall.

Today's new species is one of six recently discovered ones from caves in China. The name refers to the width of the first segment behind the head of the animal.

For the experts: Six new species of Desmoxytes are described from southern China: D. laticollis sp. n., D. simplipoda sp. n., and D. similis sp. n., all three from caves in Guangdong Province; D. phasmoides sp. n. also from a cave, and both epigean D. spiniterga sp. n. and D. variabilis sp. n., the latter trio from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A modified key to all 20 Desmoxytes species currently known to occur in China is given.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A new treehopper: Selenacentrus wallacei

Treehoppers are found on all major landmasses except Antarctica and Madagascar. Numbering about 3,500 species in 300 genera, they are divided into three families. All treehoppers feed on plant sap by sucking it out with piercing mouthparts. Some species exude sweet honeyde" from excess consumed sap, which they share with ants in a mutualistic relationship, the ants feeding on the honeydew and protecting the treehoppers from predators. Some treehoppers are also known to form mutualistic relationships with wasps and bees.

The new genus Selenacentrus was named after the singer Selena Quintanilla, who was known as the "Queen of Tejano Music." The new species is called wallacei in honor of Matthew S. Wallace, a biology professor from East Stroudsburg University.

For the experts: A new treehopper genus Selenacentrus (Membracidae: Centrotinae), and new species, S. wallacei, from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, are described and illustrated. This genus lacks key characteristics of currently recognized New World centrotine tribes including the dorsoapical and ventral lobes of the male lateral plate and cucullate setae of the mesothoracic femora (characteristic of the Boocerini). It also lacks the additional m-cu crossvein and broadened second valvulae characteristic of Platycentrini. The narrow, curved second valvulae, with prominent dorsal teeth, and lateral exposure of the scutellar apices resemble those of some endemic Antillean centrotines (Monobelini, Nessorhinini); however, Selenacentrus differs from these groups in characters of the forewing and male genitalia.