Zoological Studies

Vol. 58, 2019

(update: 2019.09.18; 11.11)

What If Multiple Claw Configurations Are Present in A Sample? A Case Study with the Description of Milnesium pseudotardigradum sp. nov. (Tardigrada) with Unique Developmental Variability

Bartłomiej Surmacz, Witold Morek*, and Łukasz Michalczyk


Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Faculty of Biology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 9, 30-387 Kraków, Poland.
*Correspondence: E-mail: wmorek@op.pl (Morek).
E-mail: bartek9865@gmail.com (Surmacz); LM@tardigrada.net (Michalczyk)

Received 14 June 2019 / Accepted 3 September 2019
Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan

The tardigrade fauna of Iceland has been a subject of studies since mid XX century. So far, only a single species of the genus Milnesium has been reported from the island, M. tardigradum, which at the time was assumed to have a cosmopolitan distribution. However, the record comes from before the redescription of M. tardigradum, thus the validity of the Icelandic report is questionable. Some species of Milnesium are characterised by developmental variability, which is most pronounced in the morphology of secondary branches of claws, exhibited by shifts in the number of spurs. In this contribution, we present a case study in which multiple claw configurations (CC) were found in a single lichen sample from Iceland, indicating the presence of more than one species and/or ontogenetic variability. To elucidate this puzzle, we utilised a range of integrative tools, including detailed morphology, morphometry, barcoding and development tracking. We present the workflow, which enabled us to collect the data for each species/morphotype. In result, we revealed the presence of three species, two characterised by ontogenetic CC change (M. variefidum and a new species) and one with a stable CC (a new species). Here, we describe one of these new species, M. pseudotardigradum, which is extremely similar to M. tardigradum, but can be phenotypically differentiated by a unique, double CC change pattern.

Key words: Cryptic species, Developmental variability, Ontogeny, Pseudocrypsis, Species distribution.

Citation: Surmacz B, Morek W, Michalczyk Ł. 2019. What if multiple claw configurations are present in a sample? A case study with the description of Milnesium pseudotardigradum sp. nov. (Tardigrada) with unique developmental variability. Zool Stud 58:32. doi:10.6620/ZS.2019.58-32.