Saturday, July 29, 2017

New publications - New species of Schikhobalotrema (Digenea: Haplosplanchnidae) and a note about Menemerus bivittatus (Araneae: Salticidae)

I'm happy to report I've got two new publications that have come out this month. The first was a long time coming, and includes a molecular phylogeny for the poorly studied digenean family Haplosplanchnidae. I also described a new species in the paper, Schikhobalotrema huffmani which I was very pleased to name after my friend, mentor and masters degree supervisor at Texas State University, Dr. David Huffman. No one deserves the honor more than him. Here is the citation and a link to the paper:

Huston, D.C., S.C. Cutmore, and T.H. Cribb. 2017. Molecular phylogeny of the Haplosplanchnata Olson, Cribb, Tkach, Bray and Littlewood, 2003, with a description of Schikhobalotrema huffmani n. sp. Acta Parasitologica, 62: 502–512. PDF on Researchgate

This family has barely been studied on the Great Barrier Reef, even though its looking like the group is a bit more diverse than we thought (more on that coming soon!). There are actually only two species of Haplosplanchnidae reported from the GBR, so this beast makes the third.

Schikhobalotrema huffmani from intestine of Tylosurus crocodilus, Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. A) Dorso-ventral B) Lateral C) Terminal Genitalia

I also included the first record for the species Haplosplanchnus pachysomus from Australia in the same paper. Here's a picture of the worm for your admiration:

Haplosplanchnus pachysomus from the intestine of Mugil cephalus, Moreton Bay, Australia

Parasites are pretty groovy but I'm also a bit of an amateur entomologist, and have published a few short papers and research notes on insects over the last couple years. I just got a short note published in the Australian Entomologist detailing some observations I made of a species of jumping spider, Menemerus bivittatus on the balcony of the old "Queenslander" style home I rented when I first moved to Brisbane. If you don't live in Brisbane, essential background information is that all our homes are infested with these tiny black ants called Technomyrmex sophiae. These critters aren't that much of a problem, and don't really get into your food or anything, but they will build nests in just about any small crevice. They seem to enjoy potted plants the best, but I have personally experienced small colonies living inside the machine bits of a blender, and behind the motherboard of my washing machine. The point here is, they are constantly moving house, and their little wagon trains are great targets for raiders.

Menemerus bivittatus is a pan-tropical species and is pretty common around here in Brisbane. We had them back in Texas as well, which is why they were so easily recognizable to me. Anyway, these spiders have some clever tricks. One such trick is train robbery, stealing the ants' precious larval cargo. The micro-world is a savage one. Check out the video I shot of this behaviour on YouTube.

Be sure to download the paper and give it a read. Heres the citation and a link:
Huston, D.C. Train Robbery: Menemerus bivittatus (Dufour, 1831) (Araneae: Salticidae) steals larvae of Technomyrmex sophiae Forel, 1902 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in transit. Australian Entomologist, 44: 85–88. PDF on ResearchGate.


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