Monday 24 June 2013

A new species of Peppermint Shrimp from the Caribbean.

Cleaner Shrimps of the genus Lysmata are known in the aquarium trade as 'Peppermint Shrimps'. They are popular in marine aquaria due to their bright colours, Fish cleaning behavior and ability to control aquarium pests such as Glass Anemones. They are also of interest to biologists due to their unusual reproductive cycle; the shrimps are protandric simultaneous hermaphrodites, which is to say they all start out as males and develop female sexual characters as they get older without ever losing their male organs. The genus is thought to contain a large number of cryptic species, i.e. species which look the same as other species but which are genetically distinct. This is made more complex by the fact that is has been recently shown that many non-cryptic species can only be distinguished by colour, with most specimens in museum and university colections being preserved in alcohol, which makes them loose their colouration.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 11 December 2012, Andrew Rhyne of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at Roger Williams University and the Research Department at the New England Aquarium, Ricardo Calado of the Departamento de Biologia & Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar at the Universidade de Aveiro, and Antonina dos Santos of the  Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos, describe a new species of Peppermint Shrimp from the Caribbean.

The new species is named Lysmata jundalini, in honour of Junda Lin of the Florida Institute of Technology, an expert on the biology of LysmataLysmata jundalini is a small (6.5 mm) translucent Shrimp with rust-coloured longitudinal stripes. It is described from specimens found living of Puerto Rico, but is thought to live throughout much of the Caribbean. The species lives in the rubble zone on the tops of Coral reefs, and is often associated with the sea anemone Stichodactyla helianthus, Moray Eels and Porites sp. Corals.

Live color pattern of Lysmata jundalini in (a) lateral view, and (b) dorsal view. Rhyne et al. (2012).

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