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Abstract

The genus Niphargus is the most diverse subterranean amphipod genus in the western Palearctic region but, owing to the presence of cryptic species and homoplasy, its taxonomy and biogeographic scenarios are complex, making molecular methods essential to understand its evolution. We conducted a study combining dna-based taxonomy with traditional morphotaxonomy to investigate Niphargus bihorensis Schellenberg, 1940, known from the Western Alps and Carpathians. We redescribed the type material of N. bihorensis from Bihor County, Romania, and revealed the presence of a cryptic species, N. absconditus n. sp., in the same karstic area (Pădurea Craiului Mountains). Additionally, the Alpine populations previously attributed to N. bihorensis turned out to belong to a new, not so closely related species, N. tizianoi n. sp. Phylogenetic analyses based on a concatenated dataset of one mitochondrial and two nuclear markers suggest that the N. bihorensis species complex belongs to a strongly supported clade, together with several species distributed from Switzerland to Iran.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology

Abstract

This study explores the perceptions that high school students have about mantled howler monkeys in the Mexican community of Balzapote, Veracruz. We systematized the learning process derived from a Primate Conservation Education Program (PCEP) based on participatory action research (PAR) and arts-based education. Our results indicate a decrease in students’ fear of monkeys, the recovery of myths and legends about this species, as well as a complex knowledge about monkeys and their habitat. The inclusion of local knowledge enriched the learning experience and reinforced primate conservation concepts. The PAR and arts-based approaches allowed students to internalize and apply acquired knowledge and fostered empathy. In addition to learning, the approach helped develop teamwork, critical thinking, and creative skills. Quantitative indicators showed shifts in emotions and knowledge post-program, and qualitative data revealed a deep articulation of learned content. We also identified migration and mining activities as socio-political factors impacting local people’s livelihoods and wildlife conservation in this region.

In: Folia Primatologica

Abstract

Larval morphology in brachyuran crabs is an essential trait defining survival in the planktonic environment. The present study describes the morphology (carapace and chelipeds) of megalopa larvae in three different species (Percnon gibbesi, Cronius ruber, and Achelous hastatus) using geometric morphometric analysis (gma). The study aim was to compare the observed body patterns at interspecific and intraspecific levels. The results showed a marked interspecific distinction of C. ruber larvae based on the rostral region of carapace and cheliped length. We relate these differences to advantages in life performance, as in other animal models, suggesting that larval morphology can be another factor contributing to the invasiveness of C. ruber. At intraspecific level, we found a high morphological similarity between two distant geographical locations, indicating strong genetic connectivity in the populations of P. gibbesi from the Canary Islands. Our findings advance the importance of larval morphology for species performance during the plankton phase that eventually can determine invasiveness in brachyuran crabs. We suggest future studies focusing on the inter-population comparisons of megalopa morphology at larger spatiotemporal scales.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology

Abstract

The destruction of wildlife habitats due to the exponential growth of human population and its encroachment into wild areas is a major threat to many species around the world. In order to understand the effects of human disturbance on the Philippine tarsier (Carlito syrichta), we evaluated its population status by quantifying the species’ population density in an agricultural habitat and assessed the degree of human disturbance in the area. We did the study in Subayon, Bilar, Bohol, where we surveyed 32 ha out of the total 115 ha of the village between April and June 2017. We predominantly used vocal activity to identify the presence and absence of tarsiers, supplementing the data with incidental sightings. In addition, human disturbances were assessed and described qualitatively. We estimated the population density on 75 individuals per square kilometer. The human disturbance was evidenced in 28 out of 32 plots, which indicates that the entire area has already been disturbed. This study showed that the Philippine tarsier could inhabit highly altered habitats such as agricultural landscapes and suggest that Subayon village might be important for the conservation of this species. We provided another example of the ecological flexibility of otherwise specialised nocturnal primates able to inhabit agricultural areas. To avoid conflicts with humans and to conserve such a species in the future, education, outreach and active involvement of local people are essential.

In: Folia Primatologica

Abstract

The Pilbara bioregion (Western Australia) has become a hotspot for subterranean fauna as a consequence of many surveys conducted to comply with Western Australian environmental regulation requirements. In this bioregion, mining developments can have major implications for subterranean fauna and their conservation. However the diversity and species distributions of most taxa are still poorly known, including the crustacean family Parabathynellidae. Recent studies on a widespread genus of this family (Atopobathynella) from the Pilbara highlighted several undescribed taxa with interesting patterns of distribution. In the Gudai Darri locality, the northern flank of the Hamersley Range occurs as a stepped escarpment intersected by dykes and gullies, with groundwater occurring within fractured rocks abutting the Fortescue River valley, where a separate regional aquifer occurs. This investigation aimed to observe whether stygofauna species distributions (1) reflected the separation between the two major aquifers within the Hamersley Range and the Fortescue Valley; and (2) were influenced by the presence of dykes. We examined the Atopobathynella species occurring in the study area using morphological and molecular data. The results reflected the hydrogeological complexity of the study area with six new lineages of Atopobathynella, recorded mainly in different gullies, that do not share a most recent common ancestor. Two species are described here A. pagetae sp. nov. and A. lythei sp. nov., and four additional species are delineated through preliminary morphological analyses and molecular data. This study will improve future environmental impact assessments and the understanding of Parabathynellidae taxa distribution in hydrogeological complex areas.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology

Abstract

Thai species of the pill millipede genus Hyleoglomeris Verhoeff, 1910 are reviewed, and an annotated catalogue is provided. Six new species from Thailand are described and illustrated based on morphological characteristics and molecular analyses: H. dracosphaera sp. n., H. nigromaculata sp. n., H. suwannakhuhensis sp. n., H. bomba sp. n., H. tongkerdae sp. n., and H. krasoon sp. n. They are morphologically similar, yet all can be separated based on their characteristic colour patterns, telopod structures and geographic distributions. Genetic differences in the dna barcode region confirm their full species statuses, with interspecific coi p-distances ranging from 9.01% to 16.51% dissimilarity. We also propose the following new synonym: H. hongkhraiensis Likhitrakarn, Golovatch & Panha, 2015 = H. cavicola Likhitrakarn, Golovatch & Panha, 2015 syn. n. This is based on the low genetic divergence observed between these two taxa (2.34% coi p-distance). A new distribution map of and a key to all Hyleoglomeris species presently known to occur in Thailand are also provided.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology
Author:

Abstract

Venomous snakebite is a neglected tropical disease and disease of poverty, affecting hundreds of thousands of people annually. The only effective medical intervention for snakebite is antivenom, produced primarily using captive venomous snakes as a source of venom. This paper analyzes snakes’ welfare at venom labs within this global health context. I recommend significant changes to improve the welfare of captive snakes, particularly in light of recent ethological research and attention on snakes. These recommendations are broadly consequentialist, aiming to improve the lives of the snakes and ensure that people have increased access to affordable antivenom.

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research

Abstract

A phenomenology of factory farms and slaughterhouses, as well as associated animal sanctuaries, is mounted. It is found that other animals in the former situations are reified into machine-like beings, as are the workers who deal with them. In terms of critical hermeneutics, it is found that alienation from the process and product of work and from each other and themselves happens for both human and nonhuman denizens of these contexts. In animal sanctuaries, it is found that a contrary movement of “subjectification” occurs. The ethical ramifications of these patterns are that animals become bereft of moral standing in the former institutions and are restored to moral considerability in the latter context.

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research

Abstract

Maderas Rainforest Conservancy (MRC) is a conservation non-profit organization that protects forests, offers primate field schools, and leads community outreach initiatives at sites in Central America, including La Suerte Biological Research Station (LSBRS) in Costa Rica. In 2018, MRC started Aula Verde, a conservation education initiative for elementary school students aged 5-12 at LSBRS. Groups of children from elementary schools and communities located within 50 km have visited LSBRS from 2018-2023 to participate in the 1.5-2 hour Aula Verde workshop, which consists of (1) an interactive lecture on conservation, (2) a guided forest walk, and (3) a snack, gift bag, and tree seedling for each participant. Workshops are funded by international donations to MRC and cost US $8-16 per student. Aula Verde has been successful, with multiple schools and communities making repeat visits, students’ families beginning to recycle their garbage and joining a WhatsApp group about conservation education that MRC staff initiated and lead, and teachers reporting improved learning outcomes for students who participate in the workshops. The success of Aula Verde is largely due to the ecological expertise and strong community ties of LSBRS staff. While the COVID-19 pandemic decreased Aula Verde offerings from 2020-2023, we expect workshops to resume at full capacity in 2024. In the future, MRC hopes to expand Aula Verde’s outreach to all children aged 5-12 living within 50 km of LSBRS.

In: Folia Primatologica

Abstract

The integrated approach of molecular phylogenetic and morphological analyses has revolutionized the systematics and our understanding of the evolutionary relationships of marine taxa. One such group is the hexacorallian order Zoantharia Rafinesque, 1815. The monotypic genus Thoracactis Gravier, 1918 has been little investigated since its placement within the order Zoantharia more than 100 years ago. Here, we examined museum specimens collected from the Cape Verde Islands (eastern Atlantic) and newly collected specimens from Brazil (southwestern Atlantic), using a combined molecular and morphological approach. Our results conclusively show Thoracactis to be referable to the family Parazoanthidae. Morphological data show that Thoracactis topsenti Gravier, 1918, the type species of this monotypic genus, has a cyclically transitional arrangement of its sphincter muscle, and this arrangement has previously been reported from the Parazoanthidae. Thoracactis can be distinguished from other hexasterophoran glass-sponge-associated genera ( Churabana Kise, Montenegro & Reimer, 2022, Parachurabana Kise, 2023, and Vitrumanthus Kise, Montenegro & Reimer, 2022) by a combination of morphological, ecological and molecular phylogenetic data. In addition, molecular phylogenetic analyses clearly indicate that Thoracactis topsenti is placed within Parazoanthidae. These results are yet another demonstration of the utility of comprehensive combined approaches. From now, research attention should focus on the revision of remaining taxonomic questions within the family Epizoanthidae, with the goal of a comprehensively revised suborder Macrocnemina within reach.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology