17 August, 2016

A rare case of leucism in scorpions

The existence of different color patterns within the same species is well known in many scorpion species (e.g. "light morph" and "dark morph") and has been linked to environmental factors like predator defense etc. Albinism is an extreme form of color pattern morph where color pigments are absent, but this is almost non-existent in scorpions (only reported in one species). Some animals show a partial hypopigmentary congenital disorder called leucism (partial loss of pigmentation), and Andre Lira and co-workers have recently reported about this phenomena in a female Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 from Brazil.

Leucism is a congenital disorder in which the individual is born with partial hypopigmentation. It is quite common in vertebrates, but rare in invertebrates, especially in arachnids like scorpions. This paper presents the first record of this congenital disorder to be observed in the order Scorpiones. During field studies in the Area de Conserva¸c˜ao Aldeia- Beberibe, a set of Atlantic forest fragments of 31,634 hectares, we collected a pregnant leucistic female Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893. In this female, the variegated pattern described for the species was a lighter color than normal. The animal produced 10 normal juveniles (not leucistics). In addition, we analyzed 1,164 specimens from 17 populations deposited in the CA-UFPE to verify the frequency of leucism; there were no scorpions with leucism within the analyzed populations. Thus, a break in variegated pattern, as with the leucism described in this study, may increase the mortality rate due to predation.

Lira AFA, Pordeus LM, Albuquerque CMR. Leucism in Tityus pusillus (Scorpiones: Buthidae): Report of a rare event in scorpions. Journal of Arachnology. 2016;44(2):245-6. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me this article!

No comments: