Monthly Archives: August 2019

New Species: August 2019

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described this month. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, Mycological Progress, Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Systematic and Applied Microbiology, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, PeerJ, Journal of Natural History and PLoS One, as well as several journals restricted to certain taxa.

Bacteria

Archaeans

SARs

Amentotaxus hekouensis is a new yew from China, Vietnam and Laos. Credits to Gao et al. (2019).*

Plants

Isotrema sanyaense is a new flowering plant from China. Credits to Li et al. (2019).*
Disporum nanchuanense is another new flowering plant from China. Credits to Zhu et al. (2019).*
Lysimachia fanii is one more new flowering plant from China. Credits to Huang et al. (2019).*
Primula dongchuanensis is yet another new flowering plant from China. Credits to Wu et al. (2019).*

Amoebozoans

Fungi

Camarophyllopsis olivaceogrisea (top) and Hodophilus glaberripes (bottom) are two new mushrooms from China. Credits to Zhang et al. (2019).*

Poriferans

Bunga payung is a new coral from Malaysia. Credits to Lau & Reimer (2019).*

Cnidarians

Flatworms

Matuxia tymbyra is a new land planarian from Brazil. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*

Annelids

Mollusks

Sinoxychilus melanoleucus is a new snail from China. Credits to Wu & Liu (2019).*

Nematodes

Arachnids

Myriapods

Mediapotamon liboense is a new crab from China. Credits to Wang et al. (2019).*

Crustaceans

Oligoneuriella tuberculata is a new mayfly from Iran. Credits to Sroka et al. (2019).*

Hexapods

Dryinus georgianus is a new wasp from the United States. Credits to Speranza et al. (2019).*
Aedes amateuri is a new mosquito from from Mexico. Credits to Ortega-Morales et al. (2019).*

Echinoderms

Actinopterygians

Eigenmannia sirius is a new fish from Brazil. Credits to Peixoto & Ohara (2019).*

Amphibians

Takydromus yunkaiensis is a new lizard from China. Credits to Wang et al. (2019).*

Reptiles

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Friday Fellow: House Pseudoscorpion

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Spiders, mites, harvestmen and scorpions are the best known arachnids among the general public. However, another group that has a lot of species, even more than scorpions, is that of the pseudoscorpions. There is a very good chance that some of them are living very close to you, especially if we think of Chelifer cancroides, the house pseudoscorpion.

A house pseudoscorpion photographed near Toronto, Canada. Photo by Ryan Hodnett.*

The name pseudoscorpion comes from the fact that these arachnids resemble scorpions, except for the lack of the tail. They are also much smaller. The house pseudoscorpion is brown and measures only about 0.5 cm in length and, as its name suggests, likes to live in human residences.

Male house pseudoscorpions defend a small territory with a radius of only a few centimeters. They allow females to enter their territory and, during the mating period, begin the courtship behavior, by which they initiate a dance and lead the female to a sperm sac (spermatophore) deposited on the ground. The female picks the spermatophore with her genital orifice and use the sperm to ferilize her eggs.

A fat one, likely a pregnant female, in Leibniz, Austria. Photo by Gernot Kunz.**

When the eggs are laid, they remain attached to the female genital pore and are covered collectively by a membrane. When the young hatch from the eggs, they are still larvae and remain inside the sac formed by the membrane covering the eggs. The female then secretes a milk-like substance from her uterus and the larvae feed on it. After molting for the first time, the larvae, now first-instar nymphs, leave the mother and, after three more moltings, reach the adult state.

Female feeding on a mite. Photo by Roland Sachs.*

Although it can pass unnoticed most of the time, the house pseudoscorpion is a cosmopolitan and common species living near and insie houses. Its pedipalps, which resemble those of scorpions, are very long and can reach almost 1 cm in length when extended. As most arachnids, they are predators, and their presence in human dwellings can be quite useful as they feed on smaller, annoying creatures, such as mites, bed bugs and booklice.

If you ever find one in your house, be kind and thank them for their service.

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References:

Harvey MS (2014) A review and redescription of the cosmopolitan pseudoscorpion Chelifer cancroides (Pseudoscorpiones: Cheliferidae). Journal of Arachnology 42: 86–104.

Levi HW (1948) Notes on the life history of the pseudoscorpion Chelifer cancroides (Linn.) (Chelonethida). Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 67(3): 290–298. doi: 10.2307/3223197

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Friday Fellow: Wattle Horned Treehopper

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Last week I presented a nice Australian acacia, the golden wattle, so today I decided to present a small creature lives on its branches. Called Sextius virescens, this insect is commonly known as the wattle horned treehopper, acaciia horned treehopper or simply green trehopper. It is a member of the order Hemiptera and the family Membracidae, commonly known as treehoppers, which are closely related to cicadas and leafhoppers.

A wattle horned treehopper on a golden wattle around Brisbane, Australia. Photo by Jenny Thyne.*

The body of the wattle horned treehopper measures about 1 cm in length and is mostly green, but the legs are brown. There are also two horn-like projections on the thorax that have a brown to black color and another long extension of the thorax that lies over the abdomen. It lives in groups on the branches of acacia trees, with the individuals usually aligned on the branches.

A wattle horned treehopper on an acacia around Melbourne. Photo by Andrew Allen.**

As all treehoppers, the wattle horned treehopper feeds on the sap of the plants in which it lives, sucking it with its adapted mouth parts. They excrete a sweet liquid called honeydew that atracts ants. Such ants usually feed on the nectar produced by the acacia’s extra-floral nectaries and defend the tree against other herbivores. However, the wattle horned treehoppers make ants turn their attention to them instead of the plant. Delighted by the honeydew, the ants stop defending the tree and start defending the treehoppers, which is not at all good for the plant.

Ants collecting honeydew from wattle horned treehoppers in eastern Australia. Photo by iNaturalist user fruitbat.*

But that is nature. One creature always trying to explore the relations between other creatures to take the best to itself.

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References:

Buckley R (1983) Interaction between ants and membracid bugs decreases growth and seed set of host plant bearing extrafloral nectaries. Oecologia 58: 132–136.

Museums Victoria Sciences Staff (2017) Sextius virescens Green Treehopper in Museums Victoria Collections Available at <https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/species/8561>. Access on 10 August 2019.

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The land planarian community of FLONA-SFP and how it gets along

by Piter Kehoma Boll

(First of all, I wish it were Bolsonaro, that piece of diarrhea-shaped cancer, who were dying by fire instead of the Amazon forest.)

(Now let’s go to the post itself:)

The São Francisco de Paula National Forest (FLONA-SFP) is a protected area for sustainable use in southern Brazil. Its was originally covered by Araucaria forest but currently is composed of a mosaic of the native forest and plantations of Araucaria, Pinus and Eucalyptus trees. This protection area is one of the main study areas of Unisinos’ Planarian Research Institute, where I conducted my undergradate, Master’s and PhD studies.

After studying the land planarian community of FLONA-SFP for many years, we conclude that it includes a fairly large number of species. Take a look at some of them and how cool they are:

Obama ladislavii, the Ladislau’s leaf-like flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Obama anthropophila, the brown urban leaf-like flatworm. Photo by Piter Keehoma Boll.*
Obama josefi, the Josef’s leaf-like flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Obama ficki, the Fick’s leaf-like flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Obama maculipunctata, the spotted-and-dotted leaf-like flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Cratera ochra. The ochre crater flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Luteostriata arturi, the Artur’s yellow striped flatworm. Credits to Instituto de Pesquisas de Planárias, Unisinos.**
Luteostriata ceciliae, the Cecilia’s yellow striped flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Luteostriata pseudoceciliae. The false Cecilia’s yellow striped flatworm. Credits to Instituto de Pesquisas de Planárias, Unisinos.**
Luteostriata ernesti, the Ernst’s yellow striped flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Luteostriata graffi, the Graff’s yellow striped flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Supramontana irritata, the irritated yellowish flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Pasipha backesi, the Backes’ shiny flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Pasipha brevilineata, the short-lined shiny flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Matuxia tymbyra, the buried Tupi flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Choeradoplana iheringi, the Ihering’s swollen-throated flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Choeradoplana benyiai, the Benya’s swollen-throated flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Choeradoplana minima, the lesser swollen-throated flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Cephaloflexa araucariana, the Araucaria’s bent-headed flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Paraba franciscana, the Franscican colored flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*
Paraba rubidolineata, the red-lined colored flatworm. Credits to Instituto de Pesquisas de Planárias, Unisinos.**
Imbira guaiana, the Kaingang bark-strip flatworm. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*

Land planarians live in the leaf litter of forest soils and prey on other invertebrates. The 22 species shown above are the ones found in FLONA-SFP that are formally described but there are still some awaiting description. We could say that there are at least 30 different species coexisting in this protected area.

How can they all persist together? Isn’t there any sort of competition for food? Thinking of that, I conducted my master’s research investigating the diet of those and other land planarians. My results suggest that, although some species share many food items, most of them have a preferred food or an exclusive food item that could be considered what Reynoldson and Pierce (1979) called a “food refuge”.

Here is what we know about the FLONA-SFP’s species until now:

  • Obama ficki feeds on slugs and snails and seems to prefer large slugs;
  • Obama ladislavii feeds on slugs and snails and seems to prefer snails;
  • Obama maculipunctata feeds on slugs and snails with unknown preference;
  • Obama anthropophila feeds on slugs, snails and other land planarians, especially of the genus Luteostriata, and prefers the latter;
  • Obama josefi apparently feeds on other land planarians only;
  • All species of Luteostriata feed exclusively on woodlice;
  • Species of Choeradoplana apparently feed on woodlice and harvestmen;
  • Cephaloflexa araucariana apparently feeds on harvestmen;
Obama ladislavii capturing a slug. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*

The diet of the remaining species is still completely unknown but, based on other species of the same genera, it is likely that species of Pasipha feed on millipedes, species of Paraba feed on slugs and planarians, and Imbira guaiana feeds on earthworms.

Luteostriata ernesti near some juicy woodlice. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.*

There are plenty of different invertebrate groups that share the leaf litter with land planarians. Despite the apparently simple anatomy of these flatworms, they were able to adapt to feed on different types of prey and have muscular and pharyngeal adaptations for that. And attempt to relate anatomical adaptations to the diet of land planarians was part of my PhD research. As soon as it is published, I’ll make a post about it. There are some nice results!

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More on land planarians:

Friday Fellow: Abundant Yellow Striped Flatworm

Friday Fellow: Ladislau’s Flatworm

Darwin’s Planaria elegans: Hidden, extinct or misidentified?

How are little flatworms colored? A Geoplana vaginuloides analysis

Obama invades Europe: “Yes, we can!

The fabulous taxonomic adventure of the genus Geoplana

The hammerhead Flatworms: Once a mess, now even messier

The New Guinea flatworm visits France: a menace

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References:

Boll PK & Leal-Zanchet AM 2015. Predation on invasive land gastropods by a Neotropical land planarian. J. Nat. Hist. 49: 983–994.

Boll PK & Leal-Zanchet AM 2016. Preference for different prey allows the coexistence of several land planarians in areas of the Atlantic Forest. Zoology 119: 162–168.

Leal-Zanchet AM & Carbayo F 2000. Fauna de Planárias Terrestres (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Terricola) da Floresta Nacional de São Francisco de Paula, RS, Brasil: uma análise preliminar. Acta Biologica Leopoldensia 22: 19–25.

Oliveira SM, Boll PK, Baptista V dos A, & Leal-Zanchet AM 2014. Effects of pine invasion on land planarian communities in an area covered by Araucaria moist forest. Zool. Stud. 53: 19.

Reynoldson TB & Piearce B 1979. Predation on snails by three species of triclad and its bearing on the distribution of Planaria torva in Britain. Journal of Zoology 189: 459–484.

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Filed under Ecology, flatworms, worms, Zoology

Friday Fellow: Golden Wattle

by Piter Kehoma Boll

If you walk through eucalyptus forests in eastern Australia, you may find today’s fellow in its natural environment. Its name is Acacia pycnantha, commonly known as the golden wattle and, as obvious by its scientific name, is a species of acacia.

A golden wattle among eucalyptus trees in southern Australia. Photo by David Muirhead.*

The golden wattle is a peculiar tree. It reaches a height of about 8 m, although most individuals grow only up to 6 m. As common among Australian species of the genus Acacia, the golden wattle does not have true leaves. Instead, it has modified leaf stems, called phyllodes, that are widened to look and function like leaves. The phyllodes have a lanceolate and falcate shape, i.e., they look like a typical leaf that is slightly curved to one side, like a sickle. The outer side of this “sickle” has an extra-floral nectary, a structure that produces nectar and attracts insects and birds that feed on it.

Phyllodes of the golden wattle with the extrafloral nectary seen as a small round protuberance. Photo by Wikimedia user Melburnian.**

The plant produces flower buds all year round but only those produced between November and May will develop further and open between July and November of the next year. The flowers occur in inflorescences and have a strong yellow color and the typical fluffy aspect of acacia flowers caused by the very long stamens.

One inflorescence with several flowers and their very long stamens. Photo by Patrick Kavanagh.***

Despite the huge amount of flowers that a single tree produces, this species is self-incompatible, meaning that it cannot fertilize itself and needs its pollen to be taken to the flowers of another individual of the same species. It has been shown that birds are very important pollinators of the golden wattle and the tree uses the extra-floral nectaries to aid that. When a bird visits the tree, it feeds on the nectar from the extra-floral nectaries and, in the process, brushed against the flowers, becoming covered with pollen. When the birds visit the next tree and brush against its flowers, part of the pollen of the first plant passes to the flowers of the second one.

The bark of the golden wattle produces large quantities of tannins, more than any other Australian acacia, which led to its cultivation for this purpose. When stressed, the trunk exudes a gum (resin) that is similar to the gum arabic produced by African species of acacia.

Gum exuding from the trunk of the golden wattle. Photo by Patrick Kavanagh.***

The golden wattle has been introduced in several other countries, especially in Europe and Africa, for ornamental or economic purposes. In South Africa, its cultivation for tannin production made it spread quickly through the native ecosystems, becoming invasive. And now, as always, we have to deal with the consequences of our irrational acts and run to solve this problem.

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References:

Hoffmann JH, Impson FAC, Moran VC, Donnelly D (2002) Biological control of invasive golden wattle trees (Acacia pycnantha) by a gall wasp, Trichilogaster sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), in South Africa. Biological Control 25(1): 64–73. 10.1016/S1049-9644(02)00039-7

Vanstone VA, Paton DC (1988) Extrafloral Nectaries and Pollination of Acacia pycnanthaBenth by Birds. Australian Journal of Botany 36(5): 519–531. doi: 10.1071/BT9880519

Wikipedia. Acacia pycnantha. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_pycnantha >. Access on 9 August 2019.

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Friday Fellow: Mottled Caddisfly

by Piter Kehoma Boll

It’s time to introduce a new insect order here and, again, this is a complicated taxon. The order Trichoptera consists of small moth-like insects known as caddisflies. They are closely related to moths and butterflies, the order Lepidoptera, being a sister-group of them. Having 10 times fewer species than the order Lepidoptera, the order Trichoptera is less common and much less popular, so that it is hard to find species that are well studied to present here.

The species I picked is called Glyphotaelius pellucidus and popularly known as the mottled caddisfly or mottled sedge. It lives in middle and northern Europe and has the typical life cycle of any caddisfly.

A mottled caddisfly in Germany. Photo by Wikimedia user Pjt56.*

The larva of the mottled caddisfly inhabits still and slow-running waters that are overgrown by trees, especially alders, oaks and beeches, in areas of lower altitude. As usual among caddisflies, the larva of the mottled caddisfly builds a silk case (a “caddis”) in which it lives and attaches pieces of debris, especially leaf fragments of the trees mentioned above, to make it stronger. In this species, the fragments that are attached make the case very large and characteristic. To the sides of the case, the larva attaches small and irregular leaf fragments, while to the dorsal and ventral sides, it attaches large, circular sections that are much wider than the larva’s body.

A larva inside its case in Germany. Photo by iNaturalist user fuerchtegott.**

The larva lives several months, from about October to April, and feeds on leaf fragments, the same material with which it builds its case. In April, the larva turns into a pupa which, usually during summer (around June or July), turns into an adult. The adult is not aquatic as the larva and the pupa. Thus, the pupa swims to the surface before breaking and releasing the adult. During this moment, the adult is very vulnerable to predators, especially fish. This is why fake adult caddisflies are commonly employed as fishing baits.

Adult mottled caddisfly in the UK. Photo by Philip Mark Osso.**

If the adult menages to leave the water alive, it still has to spend some time waiting for its wings to dry, which is another very vulnerable moment. The color of the adult is brown and the wings have a mottled pattern of dark and light marks that makes it resemble a fragment of dried leaf.

Egg mass on a leaf in the UK. Photo by Martin Cooper.***

Adult caddisflies in general rarely eat and this is not different with the mottled caddisfly. The only purpose of adults is to mate and lay eggs. After mating, the female lays the eggs in a mass on the surface of leaves hanging over a water body. One female may lay up to six egg masses, which decrease in size from the first to the last, and then dies. When the eggs hatch, the larvae fall into the water, restaring the cycle.

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References:

Crichton MI (1987) A study of egg masses of Glyphotaelius pellucidus (Retzius), (Trichoptera: Limnephilidae). In: Bournaud M., Tachet H. (eds) Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium on Trichoptera. Series Entomologica, vol 39. Springer, Dordrecht. doi: 10.1007/978-94-009-4043-7_30

Gullefors B (2010) Seasonal decline in clutch size of the caddisfly Glyphotaelius pellucidus (Retzius) (Trichoptera: Limnephilidae). Denisia 29: 125–131.

Kiauta B, Lankhorst L (1969) The chromosomes of the caddis-fly, Glyphotaelius pellucidus (Retzius, 1783) (Trichoptera: Limnephilidae, Limnephilinae). Genetica 40: 1–6.

Otto C (1983) Behavioural and Physiological Adaptations to a Variable Habitat in Two Species of Case-Making Caddis Larvae Using Different Food. Oikos 41(2): 188–194. doi: 10.2307/3544262

Rowlands MLJ, Hansell MH (1987) Case design, construction and ontogeny of building in Glyphotaelius pellucidus caddisfly larvae. Journal of Zoology 211(2): 329–356. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1987.tb01538.x

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Friday Fellow: Strawberry Top Snail

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Look at this thing:

It is so beautifully red like a strawberry that I feel my mouth salivating and an urge to bite it. But instead of a juicy sweet fruit like a strawberry, this is a hard salty seashell belonging to the species Clanculus puniceus that has the appropriate common name of strawberry top shell.

This species is found in the Indian Ocean along the eastern coast of Africa, from the Red Sea to Cape Agulhas, including nearby islands such as Madagascar and the Mascarenes. It belongs to the family Trochidae, commonly known as top shells or top snails because their shell resembles a spinning top.

Strawberry top shell in South Africa. Photo by iNaturalist user jaheymans.*

The shell of the strawberry top snail measures, in the adult, at least 15 mm in diameter, reaching up to 23 mm, and has a beautiful red color, caused by uroporphyrins, that can vary from orange-red to crimson. The spiral of the shell, when seen from above, has a line formed by black dots, caused by melanin, intercalated by two or three white dots. When seen from below, there are two additional lines with this pattern that run side by side near the shell opening.

The shell seen from several angles. Photo by H. Zell.**

As usual among top snails, the strawberry top snail lives in intertidal and subtidal zones and feeds on algae that it scrapes from rocks using its toothed tongue (the radula). They are dioecious, i.e., there are male and female individuals, as in most sea snails, but there is no sexual dimorphism.

Due to its beauty, the shell of the strawberry top snail is highly desired by shell collectors. However, little is known about the natural history of this particular species. I wasn’t even able to find a photograph in which the snail itself is visible.

This was the only photograph I found in which the soft part of the body of a snail in the genus Clanculus is visible. The species, from Taiwan, was not identified. Photograph by Cheng Te Hsu.***

If you work with this species or at least has a photograph of a living specimen showing the snail inside the shell, please share it! We need more available information on the wonderful creatures that share this planet with us.

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More marine snails:

Friday Fellow: Ornate Limpet (on 3 May 2019)

Friday Fellow: Tulip Cone (on 29 December 2017)

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References:

Herbert DG (1993) Revision of the Trochinae, tribe Trochini (Gastropoda: Trochidae) of southern Africa. Annals of the Natal Museum 34(2): 239–308.

Wikipedia. Trochidae. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trochidae >. Access on 29 July 2019.

Williams ST, Ito S, Wakamatsu K, Goral T, Edwards NP, Wogelius RA, Henkel T, Oliveira LFC, Maia LF, Strekopytov S, Jeffries T, Speiser DI, Marsden JT (2016) Identification of Shell Colour Pigments in Marine Snails Clanculus pharaonius and Cmargaritarius (Trochoidea; Gastropoda). PLoS ONE 11(7): e0156664. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156664

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