Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Two New Giants Discovered in Tiny Madagascar Rainforest

23.05.2017

Two species of giant pill-millipedes, newly described from shrinking rainforest fragments in northern Madagascar show the importance of the sustainable use of isolated small forest patches in the tropics. The two new species were described with the help of micro-CT imaging and genetic barcoding. This is the first time these cutting-edge technologies helped in the description of millipedes from Madagascar.

Madagascar, a tropical island off the coast of east Africa, is home to many plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The invertebrates found on Madagascar are as spectacular as the island's charismatic lemurs and Baobab trees. The millipede fauna is particularly impressive. Madagascar is home to the giant pill-millipedes. Pill-millipedes have the ability to roll into a sphere and these “giants” (by millipede standards) can reach the size of a baseball when rolled-up.


The giant female of Bemanevika's giant pill-millipede, Zoosphaerium bemanevika

©Thorsten Klug, ZFMK 2017


The habitat of the two new species. Small fragments of rainforest in the Bemanevika area. The damaged trees at the forest edge are clearly visible.

Copyright: Achille P. Raselimanana

The millipedes on Madagascar have been around since the Cretaceous period (> 66 million years ago), the Age of the Dinosaurs, when India and Madagascar were part of the same continent. Certain characters known from Madagascar's millipedes, such as the ability to produce sounds in both males and females, are only shared with related species from South India. This shows that species found in Madagascar and India evolved together when Madagascar and India were united.

Christina Sagorny, a student at the University of Bonn in Germany, and Thomas Wesener of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig - Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity, have described two new species of giant pill-millipedes from the remote forest of Bemanevika in northern Madagascar.

The new species were published in the journal Zootaxa. The millipedes were collected during general inventory programs by the Field Museum in Chicago. Bemanevika contains five volcanic crater lakes and isolated patches of montane forests surrounded by pseudosteppe grass lands. One of these lakes is the only remaining refuge of the planet’s rarest duck, the Madagascar pochard, rediscovered in 2006.

The newly described species are just known from a few individuals. To document the specimens, micro-CT imaging (the kind doctor’s use on humans but on a smaller scale) was used to explore the millipede’s internal head anatomy. This is only the second time this cutting-edge technique has been used in millipede taxonomy.

The scientists carried out a genetic study to identify that the males and females of the new species, Zoosphaerium bemanevika (Latin for 'Bemanevika's Giant Ball Animal'), were indeed the same species. The females and males look different: the females are larger than a golf ball or small plum, while the males are much smaller, and about the size of a marble or a small cherry.

The second species, Zoosphaerium minutus (Latin for 'Small Giant Ball Animal'), is—as the name suggests—a miniscule species of giant pill-millipedes. Both the males and females of Z. minutus are only slightly larger than a pea when rolled-up. The two new Bemanevika species are not closely related to one another; the genetic distances between the two species suggest that they already separated from a common ancestor millions of years ago.

Both species are restricted to tiny forest fragments. Their closest known relatives are not found in the area, but instead one hundred kilometres away in the Marojejy Mountain and rainforests on the east coast of Madagascar. This discovery highlights the importance of preserving habitats of Madagascar's rare species, even if they are small patches, because a species can be lost forever.

While the forest where the new species are located is officially protected, the people around the area depend on the surrounding grassland as a pasture for their Zebu cows. Each year the grassland is burned and the fires spread to the forest edge, incrementally decreasing the size of the remaining forest fragments each year.

The loss of habitat affects all rare invertebrates on Madagascar — many of which live in tiny forest fragments. The conservation status of the species is detailed on the IUCN red list that provides conservation status and biological information on the species that are facing the highest risks of global extinction, among them numerous giant pill-millipedes from Madagascar.

To address Madagascar’s extinction crisis, a recently launched program called the IPSIO network, which is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and funded by CEPF, seeks to bring attention to the importance and role of these unique invertebrates in the region.

Source: Sagorny, C. & Wesener, T. (2017). Two new giant pill-millipede species of the genus Zoosphaerium endemic to the Bemanevika area in northern Madagascar (Diplopoda, Sphaerotheriida, Arthrosphaeridae). Zootaxa, 4263 (2): 273–294.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4263.2.4

Contact:

Dr. Thomas Wesener
Head of Section Myriapoda
Curator
Tel: +49 228 9122-425
Mail: t.wesener@leibniz-zfmk.de

Christina Lara Sagorny
Tel: +49 228 9122-423
E-Mail: s6chsago@uni-bonn.de


Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig – Leibniz-Institute for Animal Biodiversity (ZFMK) is an independent research institute. The focus of research is on performing an inventory of the zoological species diversity on earth, on the analysis of changes in biodiversity as a result of environmental factors, and on evolutionary processes at the morphological and molecular levels. ZFMK furthermore explores the context of structure and function of ecological systems, advanced scientific methods, and the study of the history of science. The permanent exhibition “Our blue planet – the living network” offers a genuine nature experience based on naturalistic ecosystem displays.

The Leibniz Association combines 91 independent research institutes. Their focus ranges from the natural, engineering, and environmental sciences to the humanities and the business, space, and social sciences. The Leibniz institutes focus on relevant social, economic, and ecological issues. They perform knowledge-oriented and applied research (also among the cross-disciplinary Leibniz research alliances), are or support scientific infrastructures, and offer research-based services.

The Leibniz Association mainly focuses on knowledge transfer, especially with the Leibniz research museums. It advises and informs those in politics, science, industry, and the general public. The Leibniz institutes collaborate closely with universities (e.g., as part of the Leibniz scientific campuses), industry, and other domestic and foreign partners. They are subject to a transparent and independent evaluation procedure. Due to their national importance, the institutes of the Leibniz Association are supported jointly through federal and state funding. The Leibniz institutes employ approximately 18,600 people, 9,500 people of which are research scientists. The total budget of the institutes is more than 1.7 billion euros.

More informations: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4263.2.4

Sabine Heine | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.zfmk.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>