New Indomalayan Nebularmis species (Heterotardigrada: Echiniscidae) provoke a discussion on its intrageneric diversity

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Abstract

Recent years have brought undeniable progress in tardigrade taxonomy, and speciose complexes were detected in a number of phylogenetic lineages. The family Echiniscidae is one such lineage; it is one of the most diverse groups of limno-terrestrial tardigrades and can be characterized as having achieved great evolutionary success. In this contribution, using populations representing several species that originated from the Indomalayan region, we reconstructed phylogenetic affinities within Nebularmis, a recently erected genus within the Echiniscus lineage. Nebularmis auratussp. nov. and Nebularmis burmensissp. nov. are described from the Eastern Yoma Mountains and the Shan Hills (Myanmar), Nebularmis bhutanensissp. nov. is described from the Eastern Himalayas (Bhutan), and Nebularmis indicussp. nov. is described from the foothills of the Western Ghats (Goa, India). Moreover, males are reported in populations of the last two species. All known members of the genus can be phenotypically differentiated based on minute details of their dorsal sculpture and claws. Moreover, a very wide tropical distribution is demonstrated for Nebularmis cirinoi, recorded for the first time from islands of the Malay Archipelago. Furthemore, novel morphological, genetic, and geographic data allowed for the clarification of the generic diagnosis. Currently available data favor a scenario under which Nebularmis evolved in Southeast Asia and later dispersed to other regions of the globe.

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Gąsiorek, P., Vončina, K., Ciosek, J., Veloso, M., Fontoura, P., & Michalczyk, Ł. (2021). New Indomalayan Nebularmis species (Heterotardigrada: Echiniscidae) provoke a discussion on its intrageneric diversity. Zoological Letters, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40851-021-00172-0

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