Redescription of Xenodasys riedli (Gastrotricha: Macrodasyida) based on SEM analysis, with first report of population density data
During surveys of the Gastrotricha of the Tropical Northwestern Atlantic (TNWA, Caribbean Sea), we came across numerous specimens of the uncommon macrodasyidan, Xenodasys riedli (Xenodasyidae). Abundance data on gastrotrichs is rare and entirely absent for this species; moreover, there are no data on morphological variation of X. riedli outside its type locality (North Carolina, USA). Here, we provide new abundance data on specimens collected from St. John Island (US Virgin Islands), as well as new metric and morphological data from specimens collected on San Salvador Island (Bahamas), Tobago, and a sublittoral environment on the Atlantic Coast of Florida (USA). In the interstitial environments of St. John, X. riedli was most abundant at 0.8 m depth in moderately well-sorted sediments. It reached maximum abundance of 89.5 ± 42.7 ind./102 cm and made up 69.7% of the total taxocoenosis. Metric variation revealed that specimens at all sites in the TNWA and Florida had smaller body sizes than those recorded at the type locality, but showed only limited variation in the size and number of taxonomic characters. Observations of specimen from Florida using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed details that were overlooked in the type description. For example, we observed 8 dorsal head plates (11 in the original description), 1 pair of anterior medial plates, and 3 ventral plates, the latter of which were not described in the type specimens. We confirm the existence of round scales on the dorsolateral margins, and note that spineless-scales are also present in between the spined scales on the lateral body wall. We also determined that the lateral spined scales possess dorsal and ventral spines instead of anterior and posterior spines, which was their original assumed position. This research reveals that SEM remains the best diagnostic tool for characterizing gastrotrich morphology, and should be part of all future studies of gastrotrich taxonomy.
KeywordsXenodasyidae Caribbean Meiofauna Benthos Biodiversity Morphology
Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation to Rick Hochberg (DEB 0918499). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article derive from the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Many thanks to W.D. Hummon and T. Kånneby for the help provided during the expedition to St. John Island. Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for a number of constructive remarks on this manuscript.
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