14 March, 2019

Cytogenetic and molecular approaches reveal cryptic diversity in Alpine scorpions in the genus Euscorpius


Phenotypic conservatism is typical for many scorpion taxa.In layman's term, this mean that many scorpion species look morphologically similar making it almost impossible to separate them by traditional taxonomical methods. The European genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) is an excellent example of this. Originally this genus contained less than then species, while today it contains no less than 64 species.

And it seems that there is still more to come. By using a new combination of cytogenetic and molecular methods, Jana Štundlováa and co-workers have recently published a study of the three Alpine species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius): E. (A.) alpha, E. (A.) germanus, and E. (A.) gamma.

Their study reveals a cryptic diversity in the populations of the Alpine species, with several "races" (highly distinct karyotypic races) within each species. These races had discrete geographical distributions. Even though these results clearly shows several independent taxa, a thorough taxonomical revision with morphological studies of the subgenus is necessary before any taxonomical decisions can be made.

Some of the methods used in this study are new and open new possibilities for our understanding of the species diversity of scorpions.

Abstract:
Over time, mountain biota has undergone complex evolutionary histories that have left imprints on its genomic arrangement, geographical distribution and diversity of contemporary lineages. Knowledge on these biogeographical aspects still lags behind for invertebrates inhabiting the Alpine region. In the present study, we examined three scorpion species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius) from the European Alps using cytogenetic and molecular phylogenetic approaches to determine the variation and population structure of extant lineages at both chromosome and genetic level, and to provide an insight into the species diversification histories. We detected considerable intraspecific variability in chromosome complements and localization of the 18S rDNA loci in all studied species. Such chromosome differences were noticeable as the existence of three [in E. (A.) alpha and E. (A.) germanus] or four [in E. (A.) gamma] range-restricted karyotypic races. These races differed from one another either by 2n [in E. (A.) alpha 2n=54, 60, 90; in E. (A.) gamma 2n=58, 60, 88, 86–92], or by the karyotypic formula [in E. (A.) germanus 2n=34m+12sm; 36m+10sm; 42m+4sm]. Using mitochondrial (16S rRNA, COI) and nuclear (28S rDNA) genetic markers, we examined genetic variation and reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among the karyotypic races. Both approaches provided evidence for the existence of ten deeply divergent lineages exhibiting the features of local endemics and indicating the presence of cryptic species. Molecular dating analyses suggest that these lineages diversified during the Plio-Pleistocene and this process was presumably accompanied by dynamic structural changes in the genome organization.

Reference:
Stundlova J, Smid J, Nguyen P, Stahlavsky F. Cryptic diversity and dynamic chromosome evolution in Alpine scorpions (Euscorpiidae: Euscorpius). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;134:152-63. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Victor Fet and Frantisek Kovarik for sending me this interesting article!

Distribution and habitat of Euscorpius carpathicus in Romania


Euscorpius carpathicus (Linnaeus, 1767) (Euscorpiidae) was previously distributed all over Europe, but modern taxonomy revealed that it was a major species complex hiding many unique species. Today, E. carpathicus is limited to Romania only.

Severus-Daniel Covaciu-Marcov & Sára Ferenţi have recently published an article on the distribution of E. carpathicus in parts on Romania. Data on habitat is also presented.

Abstract:
In 2016-2018, we identified 48 distribution records of Euscorpius carpathicus in the Cozia National Park, from the Romanian Southern Carpathians. The Carpathian scorpion was found between 300 and 847 m a.s.l., in forested regions, being more numerous in the lower areas situated along the Olt River. E. carpathicus is a native species in the region; it populates natural areas with low human impact.

Reference:
Covaciu-Marcov S-D, Ferenti S. An Endemic Species in a Protected Area: Euscorpius carpathicus (L., 1767) in the Cozia National Park, Romania (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2019(279):1-6. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

28 February, 2019

New Orthochirus species from The Middle East


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a revision of the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) from Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Three new species are described and one species is elevated from subspecies status.

Orthochirus fomichevi Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Turkey & Iraq)

Orthochirus gantenbeini Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus navidpouri Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 (Elevated to species status. Previous status: Orthochirus scrobiculosus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918)

The article has an identification key for the species in the region.

Abstract:
Three new species, Orthochirus fomichevi sp. n. from Turkey and Iraq, O. gantenbeini sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province), and O. navidpouri sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan and Lorestan Provinces) are described, compared with other Orthochirus species from the region, and fully illustrated with color photos. Lectotype of O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province) is designated. Emended diagnoses are given for O. iranus Kovařík, 2004, O. iraqus Kovařík, 2004, O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n., and O. zagrosensis Kovařík, 2004. A key and a distribution map are included.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Yagmur EA, Fet V, Hussen FS. A review of Orthochirus from Turkey, Iraq, and Iran (Khoozestan, Ilam, and Lorestan Provinces), with descriptions of three new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(278):1-31. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

25 February, 2019

A new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula


Graeme Lowe and co-workers have recently published an article describing a new genus and and a new species i the family Buthidae from the Arabian Peninsula. A second species is transferred to the new genus.

Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New genus from Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Trypanothacus barnesi Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New species from Oman.

Trypanothacus buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) - New combination. Previously name Buthacus buettikeri Hendrixson, 2006.

Abstract:
We define a new fossorial buthid genus Trypanothacus gen. n., similar to Buthacus Birula, 1908, differing primarily in telson shape, with a bulbous vesicle and aculeus shorter than the vesicle, and in heavier dentition on metasomal segments II–III and IV. The new genus includes two species: T. barnesi sp. n. from Oman and T. buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) comb. n. from Saudi Arabia, the latter transferred from Buthacus. We provide detailed illustrations of both species from preserved materials, and in vivo habitus and natural habitat are shown for T. barnesi sp. n.. Information is also provided on ecology and captive rearing of T. barnesi sp. n., and on its karyotype (2n=26). The new genus is compared to genera Buthacus and Vachoniolus Levy et al., 1973. Telson morphology of these genera is analyzed and compared with other psammophilous and pelophilous buthids. In certain subgroups of scorpions, we find that aculeus length can be related to psammophily and body size. As a highly diverse multifunctional organ, the telson is shaped by complex environmental and genetic factors. We propose that telson morphology can nevertheless be useful for taxonomy if it is carefully applied.

Reference:
Lowe G, Kovarik F, Stockmann M, Stahlavsky F. Trypanothacus gen. n., a new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(277):1-29. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

19 February, 2019

A new species of Orthochirus from Iran


Shahrokh Navidpour and co-workers have published a new paper on the scorpion fauna of Iran and a new species of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) is described.

Orthochirus carinatus Navidpour, Kovarik, Soleglad & Fet, 2019

Abstract:
Nine species of scorpions belonging to two families are reported from the Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces of Iran. Of these, Compsobuthus kaftani Kovařík, 2003 is recorded from Tehran Province for the first time; Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; Hottentotta saulcyi (Simon, 1880) is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time; Iranobuthus krali Kovařík, 1997 is recorded for Tehran Province for the first time; Mesobuthus eupeus eupeus (C. L. Koch, 1839) is recorded from Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces for the first time; Odontobuthus doriae (Thorell, 1876) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; and Scorpio kruglovi Birula, 1910 is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time. Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. from Iran (Alborz and Tehran Provinces) is described and fully complemented with color photos of preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

References:
Navidpour S, Kovarik F, Soleglad ME, Fet V. Scorpions of Iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part X. Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces with a Description of Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(276):1-20. [Open Access]

Familiy Buthidae


14 February, 2019

A new species of Pandinurus from Somaliland


Thanks to Frantisek Kovarik and his team we have in the last years seen a much needed update of the scorpion fauna of East Africa. In a new contribution recently published, Kovarik and co-workers present a new species of Pandinurus Fet, 1997 (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland.

Pandinurus fulvipes Kovarik, Lowe & Mazuch, 2019

The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) from the same area is described from the first time.

Abstract:
The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) is introduced for the first time and illustrated in detail with color photos, and sexual dimorphism and occurrence of the species are discussed. Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Mazuch T. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XIX. Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) and Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland. Euscorpius. 2019(275):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

13 February, 2019

A new species of Chaerilus from Malaysia


Frantisek Kovarik has recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Malaysia.

Chaerilus alberti Kovarik, 2019

Abstract:
Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) is described and fully illustrated with color photographs of preserved specimens, as well as of their habitat. Males of C. alberti sp. n. have a unique shape of chela which is stout with the manus swollen anteriorly. They are compared to other species from Southeast Asia from all of which C. alberti sp. n. differs by the shape of pedipalp chela parallel or swollen posteriorly or medially. Pedipalp chela is illustrated with color photographs of 21 of these species.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). Euscorpius. 2019(274):1-9. [Open Access]

Family Chaerilidae