Zoological Studies

Vol. 60, 2021

(update: 2021.10.4)

High Mountain Echiniscid (Heterotardigrada) fauna of Taiwan

Piotr Gąsiorek1,*, Katarzyna Vončina1, Reinhardt M°bjerg Kristensen2, and Łukasz Michalczyk1

1Department of Invertebrate Evolution, Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Faculty of Biology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 9, 30-387 Krakˇw, Poland. *Correspondence: piotr.lukas.gasiorek@gmail.com (Gąsiorek)
E-mail: kat.von@onet.eu (Vončina); lm@tardigrada.net (Michalczyk)
2Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: rmkristensen@snm.ku.dk (Kristensen)

Received 3 August 2021 / Accepted 13 September 2021
Communicated by Daniel Setc

Taiwan lies at the transitional zone between the East Palaearctic and Oriental regions, which translates into the presence of both Palaearctic and Indomalayan taxa on this island. Furthermore, large habitat heterogeneity and high mountains contributed to the rise of conditions favouring allopatric speciation and the emergence of endemic species. The tardigrade fauna of Taiwan is poorly studied, and the aim of this contribution is to provide new data on the members of the family Echiniscidae, the largest limno-terrestrial group of the class Heterotardigrada, found at high elevations in central Taiwan. We report 11 species grouped in 5 genera: Claxtonia (1 species), Echiniscus (3 species), Hypechiniscus (1 species), Nebularmis (2 species), and Pseudechiniscus (4 species). All are new to Taiwan, including 5 species that are new to science, with 4 of them being described herein by means of integrative taxonomy as: Hypechiniscus crassus sp. nov. (the exarmatus morphogroup), Pseudechiniscus (Meridioniscus) dreyeri sp. nov., Pseudechiniscus (Pseudechiniscus) formosus sp. nov., and Pseudechiniscus (Pseudechiniscus) totoro sp. nov. The new findings also help to clarify the description of Echiniscus clevelandi Beasley, 1999, and supplement the phylogenies of the Echiniscus virginicus complex and of the genera Hypechiniscus, Nebularmis and Pseudechiniscus.

Key words: Biogeography, Endemism, Integrative taxonomy, Oriental, Palaearctic, Phylogeny.

Citation: Gąsiorek P, Vončina K, Kristensen RM, Michalczyk L. 2021. High mountain echiniscid (Heterotardigrada) fauna of Taiwan. Zool Stud 60:70.