23 May, 2014

A new species of Chaerilus from Vietnam

Wilson Lourenco and Dinh-Sac Pham have recently published a new species of Chaerilus discovered in the Pa Thom Caves in the Dien Bien District in northern Vietnam.

Chaerilus pathom Lourenco & Pham, 2014 (Chaerilidae)

The new species was found in caves, but the paper doesn't report about any cave adaptions or if this is a troglophile species.

Recently, Frantisek Kovarik published a revision of Chaerilidae in his book project Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions, Part II. Lourenco & Pham strongly criticize and reject Kovarik's decisions in this revision, and state that species that are synonymized or declared Nomen dubium should be valid until more detailed studies are made.I will post a special blog message later with the consequences for the genus in regard to Kovarik's decisions (which is currently reflected in The scorpion Files species list).

A new species of the genus Chaerilus Simon, 1877 is described from a cave in Dien Bien District, West of Dien Bien Phu city in northern Vietnam. The new species is morphologically similar to other Chaerilus species distributed only in the south of Vietnam and Cambodia and suggests a case of a vicariant species between northern and southern populations in the Southeast Asian peninsula.

Lourenco WR, Pham D-S. The genus Chaerilus Simon, 1877 in Vietnam (Scorpiones; Chaerilidae): A possible case of a vicariant species. Comptes Rendus - Biologies. 2014;337:360-4. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me this paper!

Family Chaerilidae

A new cave species from Colombia

Ricardo Botero-Trujillo and Eduardo Florez D have recently published a new species from El Eden Cave in Colombia.

Tityus grottoedensis Botero-Trujillo & Florez D, 2014 (Buthidae)

The new species is not a true troglobite showing no morphological adaptions to cave life, but rather a partly troglophile, living both inside and just outside caves.

A new scorpion species, Tityus (Tityus) grottoedensis sp. nov., is herein described based on male and female specimens collected in El Edén Cave and its vicinities (Tolima department, Colombia). The new species, which becomes the first scorpion described from a Colombian cave, is probably a eutroglophile or subtroglophile element; however, additional studies are needed to determine the degree of association of the species to the cave. Among other features, the new species is characterized by having a relatively thin body, a yellow-to-chestnut coloration, sternites IV to VI with visible lateral longitudinal carinae, and the basal piece of the middle lamella of the pectines dilated in male and female.

Botero-Trujillo R, Florez D E. A new species of Tityus (Scorpiones, Buthidae) from El Edén Cave, Colombia. Zootaxa. 2014;3796(1):108-20. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae

21 May, 2014

Tail autotomy in an Ananteris species

Can scorpions loose their tail as a defense against predators?
Autotomy ("self amputation") is known in many animals as a defense against being caught by predators. Lira and co-workers now present evidence that this is an anti-predator strategy in the buthid Ananteris mauryi Lourenco, 1982.

Personally I have never heard about this in scorpions and I have never seen a scorpion loose its tail after being grabbed by a forceps (I've done this to many different scorpions). But it seems, at least in this species, that this is a behavior available as a defense against being caught and eaten.

The behavior comes with a cost - the loss of stinger and venom apparatus. This makes the scorpion very vulnerable in the future and will also reduce its ability to catch large preys. But it is better than being eaten.

No abstract available.

Lira AFA, Sarinho NMS, De Souza AM, Albuquerque CMR. Metasomal Autotomy in Ananteris mauryi Lourenco, 1982 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Journal of Insect Behavior. 2014 Mar;27(2):279-82. [Subscription required for full text]

09 May, 2014

Bacterial endosymbionts in Vaejovidae

Maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts are common among arachnids and maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts are known to affect reproductive and behavioural traits of their arthropod hosts. The prevalence of bacterial endosymbionts and their role in scorpion evolution have rarely been investigated.

Robert Byrson Jr. har now published a study  where 40 species in the family Vaejovidae were screened for the presence of four major bacterial endosymbionts. Interestingly, none of the screened scorpions appeared to be infected with these endosymbionts, contrary to results from other Arachnids.

Bacterial endosymbionts are common among arthropods, and maternally inherited forms can affect the reproductive and behavioural traits of their arthropod hosts. The prevalence of bacterial endosymbionts and their role in scorpion evolution have rarely been investigated. In this study, 61 samples from 40 species of scorpion in the family Vaejovidae were screened for the presence of the bacterial endosymbionts Cardinium, Rickettsia, Spiroplasma and Wolbachia. No samples were infected by these bacteria. However, one primer pair specifically designed to amplify Rickettsia amplified nontarget genes of other taxa. Similar off-target amplification using another endosymbiont-specific primer was also found during preliminary screenings. Results caution against the overreliance on previously published screening primers to detect bacterial endosymbionts in host taxa and suggest that primer specificity may be higher in primers targeting nuclear rather than mitochondrial genes.

Bryson Jr RW. Bacterial endosymbiont infections in ‘living fossils’: a case study of North American vaejovid scorpions. Molecular Ecology Resources. 2014 16. JAN Online First.

Thanks to Dr. Byrson Jr. for sending me his paper!

08 May, 2014

More on the scorpion fauna of Algeria

Salah Eddine Sadine and co-workers have recently published a new paper on the scorpion fauna of Algeria. This time the report on taxa found in the Ghardaia region. Four species were detected.

This study concerns the census of scorpion’s fauna in a region of the Algerian Sahara. A random collection in the region of Ghardaia, during the twelve months of the year 2013, allowed us to collect a set of 214 individuals of scorpions. Based on morphological identification, four species have been surveyed: Androctonus amoreuxi, Androctonus australis, Androctonus bicolor and Buthacus arenicola, that all belong to the Buthidae family.

The paper is in French.

Sadine SE, Alioua Y, Kemassi A, Mebarki MT, Houtia A, Bissat S. Aperçu sur les scorpions de Ghardaïa (Algérie). Journal of Advanced Research in Science and Technology. 2014;1(1):12-7.[Free full text]

Thanks to Dr. Sadine for sending me this paper!

07 May, 2014

New data on distribution of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites in Kazakhstan

Tatyana Bragina and Ersen Yagmur have recently published new data on the distribution of the widespread species Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C. L. Koch, 1939) Buthidae in Central Kazakhstan.

New data on the distribution of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C.L. Koch, 1839) (Buthidae) in Central Kazakhstan is presented. It is one of the most northern areas where this species was found in Asia. The species was collected in the south of Kostanay Province in the new protected area, Altyn Dala State Reservat (protected area established in 2012). The map with data of this species' distribution in Kazakhstan and in new areas is given with photographs. 

Bragina TM, Yagmur EA. New data on the distribution of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C.L. Koch, 1839) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Central Kazakhstan. Serket. 2014;14(1):1-5.

Thanks to Dr. Hisham K. El-Hennawy (Editor of the journal Serket) and Ersen Yagmur for both sending me this paper!

06 May, 2014

Caves as microrefugia and impact on phylogeography

Pseudouroctonus reddelli can be found both inside caves and outside on rocky hillsides.
Robert Bryson and co-workers have recently published an extensive study on the Pleistocene phylogeography on the troglophylic (cave loving) North American scorpion Pseudouroctonus reddelli (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) (Vaejovidae) and the impact of caves as microrefugia.

The main conclusion of this study support a hypothesis that caves served as microrefugia for this species and a history of Pleistocene diversification. See abstract and article for more details.

Background: Survival in microrefugia represents an important paradigm in phylogeography for explaining rapid postglacial re-colonization by species in temperate regions. Microrefugia may allow populations to persist in areas where the climatic conditions on the surface have become unfavourable. Caves generally contain stable microclimates and may represent microrefugia for species capable of exploiting both cave and surface habitats (troglophiles). We examine the phylogeography of the troglophilic North American vaejovid scorpion Pseudouroctonus reddelli using 1,993 base pairs of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data generated from 12 populations. We use (i) descriptive measures of genetic diversity and population genetics statistics, (ii) reconstructions of phylogeographical structure, spatial diffusion during diversification, and population sizes through time, and (iii) species distribution modelling to test predictions of the hypothesis that caves serve as microrefugia. We compare phylogeographical patterns in P. reddelli with other troglophilic species across the Edwards Plateau karst region of Texas.
Results: Results revealed high haplotype and nucleotide diversity and substantial phylogeographical structure, probably generated during the Pleistocene. Spatial diffusion occurred along the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau from multiple refugia along the Balcones Escarpment. There was little evidence for population and geographical expansion. Species distribution models predicted substantial reductions in suitable epigean habitat for P. reddelli at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
Conclusions: High genetic diversity, strong phylogeographical structure, diffusion from multiple refugia, and unfavourable climatic conditions at the LGM collectively support the hypothesis that caves served as microrefugia for P. reddelli. Similar patterns of genetic structure in P. reddelli and other troglophilic species across the Edwards Plateau karst region of Texas suggest that caves serving as microrefugia are important for the formation, maintenance, and future survival of troglophilic species in temperate karst regions.

Bryson Jr RW, Prendini L, Savary WE, Pearman PB. Caves as microrefugia: Pleistocene phylogeography of the troglophilic North American scorpion Pseudouroctonus reddelli. BMC Evol Biol. 2014;14(9):1-16. [Free full text]

Thanks to Dr. Bryson Jr for sending me their paper!

05 May, 2014

A new species in Pandinus from Chad

Pandinus vachoni is named after the very famous French scorpion researcher Max Vachon.
Andrea Rossi has discovered a new species of Pandinus Thorell, 1876 (Scorpionidae) from Shael zone in the centrral area of Chad.

Pandinus vachoni Rossi, 2014

The biogeography of the subgenus Pandinurus Fet, 1997 is also discussed. An identification key for this subgenus is included.

Despite their large size, the scorpions of the genus Pandinus Thorell, 1876 are surprisingly not sufficiently recorded in the African countries. This is particular true for the species that inhabit the Sahel zone, which seem to be very rare. The peri-Saharan pattern of distribution of the subgenus Pandinurus Fet, 1997 is very fragmented and this reflects the presence of endemic species such as the recent discovered Pandinus nistriae Rossi, 2014 in the northern Djibouti, where this genus was never recorded. In the present study, an additional new species, Pandinus (Pandinurus) vachoni, is described from Chad to represent the most western species of the subgenus Pandinurus ever recorded.

Rossi A. The fragmented peri-Saharan distribution of the subgenus Pandinurus Fet, 1997 with the description of a new species from Chad (Scorpiones, Scorpionidae, Pandinus). Serket. 2014;14(1):6-14.

Thanks to Dr. Hisham K. El-Hennawy (Editor of the journal Serket) for sending me this paper!

Family Scorpionidae