LSUMNS researchers are at the top of the list for new species discoveries in 2014

2014 was an exciting year for describing new biodiversity for researchers at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science (LSUMNS). Top ten lists are ubiquitous this time of year and two such lists documenting the top new species of 2014 include taxa described by LSU researchers.
A list compiled by Discover Magazine includes a new fish species described by Prosanta Chakrabarty and colleagues and a new rat species described by Jake Esselstyn and colleagues.
The Hoosier Cavefish Amblyopsis hoosieri, the first new cavefish species described from the United States in the last 40 years, is found in subterranean habitats of southern Indiana. Amblyopsis hoosieri is distinct from its congener A. spelaea based on morphological and molecular characters. The Ohio River appears to act as a barrier for these two species with A. hoosieri distributed to the north of the river and A. spelaea to the south.

The Hoosier Cavefish Amblyopsis hoosieri. Photo by M.L. Niemiller.

The Hoosier Cavefish Amblyopsis hoosieri. Photo by M.L. Niemiller

Waiomys mamasae is a new species of insectivorous water rat (try saying that 10 times fast!) from a newly described genus endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia. Phylogenetic analyses showed that W. mamasae is not closely related to other semi-aquatic murids (rodents) which means it has independently evolved traits associated with its semi-aquatic, carnivorous life history.

The generic name combines the Mamasa Toraja word ‘wai’ (water; pronounced ‘why’) with the Greek ‘mys’ (mouse) in reference to the semi-aquatic lifestyle of the animal and in recognition of the local Mamasan people who call the animal ‘water rat’ in their language, Mamasa Toraja

The Sulawesi water rat, Waiomys mamasae. Photo by Kevin Rowe

The Sulawesi water rat, Waiomys mamasae. Photo by Kevin Rowe

In Time Magazine’s top 10 new species of 2014, the top spot goes to Catherine Newman and colleagues whose work resulted in the discovery of a new species of leopard frog in metropolitan New York City (of all places!). The new species, Rana kauffeldi, was first identified by molecular data given its morphological similarity to parapatric congeners Rana sphenocephala and R. pipiens. Rana kauffeldi is also distinguishable by its call.

The advertisement call [of R. kauffeldi] is a single-noted unpulsed ‘chuck’ that is distinct from the pulsed ‘ak-ak-ak’ of R. sphenocephala and the snore-like calls of R. pipiens and R. palustris.”

The Atlantic Coast leopard frog, Rana kauffeldi. Photo by Brian Curry

The Atlantic Coast leopard frog, Rana kauffeldi. Photo by Brian Curry

Chakrabarty, Prosanta, Jacques A. Prejean, and Matthew L. Niemiller. “The Hoosier cavefish, a new and endangered species (Amblyopsidae, Amblyopsis) from the caves of southern Indiana.” ZooKeys 412 (2014): 41. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.412.7245
Rowe, Kevin C., Anang S. Achmadi, and Jacob A. Esselstyn. “Convergent evolution of aquatic foraging in a new genus and species (Rodentia: Muridae) from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia.” Zootaxa 3815.4 (2014): 541-564. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3815.4.5
 Feinberg, Jeremy A., et al. “Cryptic diversity in metropolis: confirmation of a new leopard frog species (Anura: Ranidae) from New York City and surrounding Atlantic Coast regions.” PloS One 9.10 (2014): e108213. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108213

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