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.

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).