Saturday 10 November 2012

A new species of Mayfly from western Ecuador.

Mayflies are an ancient group of insects related to the Dragonflies and Damselflies. They have a long aquatic larval stage followed by a short flying adult phase, which typically does not feed, simply emerging from the water, mating, and laying eggs at a new site. This adult form, called the imago may survive from a few hour to a few days, depending on the species.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 11 September 2012, Wills Flowers of the Estación Experimental Tropical Pichilingue at the Instituto Nacional Autónimo de Investigaciones de Agropecuaria describes a new species of Mayfly from the coastal mountains of western Equador.

The new species is placed in the genus Atopophlebia, and given the specific name pitculya, after a mythical being in the mythology of the Cayapas people of northwestern Ecuador, that is believed to live in rivers and streams and paint its body with yellow dye; the insects are yellowish in colour.

Atopophlebia pitculya, adult male. Flowers (2012).

The nymphs (immature insects were found living in ephemeral pools and streams and in damp leaf-litter in places where their pools were seasonal. Adults used in the description of the species were artificially raised from these nymphs. The adult male flies average 5.8 mm in length and the females 11.6 mm. Both are yellowish tan in colour. The male nymph is considerably larger than the adult, comparable with the female in size.

Map showing the known distribution of Atopophlebia pitculya (solid stars) and related species; A. fortunensis (open stars), A. obrienorum (solid circle), A. yarinacocha (solid square) and A. flowersi (open circles). None of these spcies is found on both sides of the Andes, suggesting that original continuous populations were divided by the Andean Orogeny (formation of the Andes Mountains) and have subsequently evolved into new species. Flowers (2012).

Pool inhabited by nymphs. Manabí Provinced, Ecuador. Flowers (2012).

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