Wednesday 26 January 2022

Ivoria alourouai: A new species of Uropodinid Mite from Côte d'Ivoire.

Uropodinid Mites are small, soil-dwelling Arachnids which predate Nematodes and other small Invertebrates. They are global in distribution, and play a major role in many soil ecosystems. These Mites are thought to be particularly important in the soils of tropical rainforests, but little work has been dedicated to the study of tropical Uropodinids, for example only nine species have been described from Côte d'Ivoire in the forest belt of West Africa.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 18 January 2022, Jenő Kontschán of the Plant Protection Institute at the Hungarian Centre for Agricultural Research, and Sergey Ermilov of the Institute of Environmental and Agricultural Biology at Tyumen State University, describe a new species of Uropodinid Mite from the Taï National Park of Côte d'Ivoire.

The new species is placed within the genus Ivoria, which currently contains only a single species, Ivoria taiensis, which itself was desctibed by Jenő Kontschán in 2019, and given the specific name alourouai, in reference to Alouroua the mythical creator of the Akan (Baoule) people who are the largest cultural group of the Ivory Coast. Both species are described upon the basis of single female specimens found within soil samples collected from the Taï National Park, and stored at the Natural History Museum of Geneva.

Ivoria alourouas, female, holotype, dorsal view. Kontschán & Ermilov (2022).

Both species of Ivoria share a number of features, notably a domed Idiosoma (region that bears the legs, the genital and anal openings, and an assortment of tactile and sensory structures), fusion of the marginal and dorsal shields at the anterior (front), five pairs of sternal setae (hairs), a subtriangular female genital plate, a tritosternum (bristle-like sensory organ just behind the gnathosoma) with a vase-like base, and a laciniae (narrow lobe on the maxila) subdivided into two pairs of short lateral and one pair of long central branches.

Photographs of Ivoria alouroua, female, holotype. (a) dorsal view (b) latero-dorsal view (c) ventral view (d) latero-ventral view. Kontschán & Ermilov (2022).

Ivoria alourouai differs from Ivoria taiensis in that the elevated areas on the dorsal surface are surrounded by soft fur-like setae, whereas in Ivoria taiensis these areas are more leaf-shaped and have serrated areas. In Ivoria alourouai the middle-back part of the marginal shield is separated and quadrangular, whereas that of Ivoria taiensis is more integrated with the whole, but has two distinct incisions not seen in Ivoria alourouai. The setae on the dorsal surface of Ivoria alourouai are long and soft, those of Ivoria taiensis shorter and smoother. Ivoria taiensis also has needle-like setae on its underside, which are absent in Ivoria alourouai. Ivoria alourouai has oval pits on its ventral shield, which are absent in Ivoria taiensis,

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