J. Judson Wynne, with the Department of Biological Sciences at NAU and cave research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Southwest Biological Center, and Kyle Voyles, Arizona State Cave Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management, collected specimens leading to the discovery of two new millipede species in caves on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.
Wynne and Voyles, known for their cave research, also discovered a new genus of cricket last spring.
"We knew the millipedes likely represented two distinct species because the two populations were separated by the Grand Canyon," Wynne said. "The fact these two species belong to an entirely new genus was a great surprise to us."
Wynne said these eyeless albino millipedes are "essentially living fossils" and provide researchers with another piece of the puzzle needed to better understand cave ecosystems.
He explained that during the last Ice Age, when northern Arizona was warmer and wetter, millipedes lived in leaf litter. As the climate warmed, they sought refuge in caves, where the subterranean realm provides more constant climatic conditions enabling their survival.
Representing two distinct species (one occurring in one cave on the South Rim, the other in two caves on the North Rim of Grand Canyon), this new genus of cave-limited millipede has been confirmed by Bill Shear, a leading millipede expert at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
"Western U.S. caves have not been at all well explored for examples of cave life" Shear said. "We can expect more new species from the ongoing work at Northern Arizona University."
This new genus was confirmed by analysis of the eighth pair of legs (or gonopods) on the male specimens.
For the north rim species, Voyles explained that the discovery will result in the two caves becoming listed as 'significant' under the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act of 1988.
Voyles indicates there are a lot more exciting discoveries to be made. "With 170 known caves [on the BLM Arizona Strip lands], there is no doubt that there is more to find. The research we have conducted here is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg," he said.
He added that this also means more work for resource managers, who will now have to pay much closer attention to the use and conservation of these caves and their biological attributes.
Neil Cobb, curator of the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity in the Department of Biological Sciences at NAU, said, "Caves are extreme habitats that have received far too little attention. The arthropods that can survive these dark and resource-poor environments can tell us a lot about what makes them so successful as a group."
While conducting ecological inventories of 30 caves on the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona, research by Wynne and Voyles has resulted in the discovery of at least 10 new species, including a new species of spider, a new genus of cave cricket (Family Rhaphidophoridae), possibly two new cricket species, a new barklouse (Psocoptera) species, a new beetle species, and possibly two new springtail species (Collembola). With many of the collected specimens still awaiting identification by taxonomists, the researchers believe additional species discoveries are likely.
The new millipede genus will be named in honor of NAU ecologist, John Prather, who died last year.
Wynne, also an associate curator with the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity, is also developing methods to detect caves using thermal remote sensing imagery. Once procedures are developed, these techniques ultimately will be used to find caves on Mars.
Voyles is also the cave resource management lead for Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. His work has led to the development of cave resource management plans and the ultimate protection of numerous caves in northwestern Arizona and southwestern Utah.
Diane Rechel | EurekAlert!
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences