New Asian and Nearctic Hypechiniscus species (Heterotardigrada: Echiniscidae) signalize a pseudocryptic horn of plenty

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The cosmopolitan echiniscid genus Hypechiniscus contains exclusively rare species. In this contribution, by combining statistical morphometry and molecular phylogeny, we present qualitative and quantitative aspects of Hypechiniscus diversity, which remained hidden under the two purportedly cosmopolitan species: H. gladiator and H. exarmatus. A neotype is designated for H. gladiator from Creag Meagaidh (Scotland), and an informal re-description is provided for H. exarmatus based on animals from Creag Meagaidh and the Isle of Skye (Inner Hebrides). Subspecies/forms of H. gladiator are suppressed due to the high developmental variability of the cirrus dorsalis. At the same time, four species of the genus are described: H. daedalus sp. nov. from Roan Mountain and the Great Smoky Mountains (Southern Appalachian Mountains, USA), H. flavus sp. nov. and H. geminus sp. nov. from the Yatsugatake Mountains (Honshu, Japan), and H. cataractus sp. nov. from the Malay Archipelago (Borneo and the Moluccas). Dorsal and ventral sculpturing, together with morphometric traits, are shown to be the key characters that allow for the phenotypic discrimination of species within the genus. Furthermore, the morphology of Hypechiniscus is discussed and compared to that of the most similar genera, Pseudechiniscus and Stellariscus. Finally, a diagnostic key to all recognized Hypechiniscus species is provided.

TidsskriftZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)794-852
Antal sider59
StatusUdgivet - 2021

ID: 275993677