A highly diverse ciliate community was found in 71 samples from terrestrial and semiterrestrial habitats from the western half of Venezuela (67 samples) and from Galápagos (4). The ciliates, respectively, their resting cysts, were re-activated from the air-dried samples using the non-flooded Petri dish method. Species were identified by combining live observation, silver impregnation, and scanning electron microscopy.
The faunistic and taxonomic results are summarized in chapter 3.1.1, i.e., in a detailed list of species, showing their distribution and frequency: (i) A total of 459 ciliate species is recorded in Terrestrial and Semiterrestrial Ciliates (Protozoa, Ciliophora) from Venezuela and Galápagos, 421 from Venezuela and Galápagos and 38 from other sites globally. Most species are new records for the areas investigated. (ii) 120 species (28%) are new to science, 82 from Venezuela including 13 from Galápagos (20%) and 38 from various sites globally; 50 species are redescribed. (iii) Based on these findings, 44 new genera and subgenera, four new families (Lingulotrichidae, Deviatidae, Urosomoididae, Apometopidae), and a new suborder (Woodruffina) are established. (iv) The ontogenesis is described for 10 species: Platyophryides macrostoma, Cinetochilides terricola, Protospathidium salinarum, Notodeviata halophila, Idiodeviata venezuelensis, Deviata brasiliensis, Paragonostomum australiense, Gonostomum singhii, Oxytricha pulvillus, and Lepidothrix dorsiincisura. (v) 656 type and voucher slides have been deposited in the Biology Centre of the Upper Austrian Museum in Linz (LI). (vi) Eight species, formerly known only by their molecular sequences, have been identified and described (Fig. 124, 294): Maryna umbrellata, Maryna meridiana, Bursaria ovata, Platyophryides macrostoma, Sagittarides oblongistoma, Sagittaria venezuelensis, Apowoodruffia salinaria, and Condylostomides coeruleus.
252 of the 459 ciliate species occur at only one or two sites, showing a patchy distribution of most species and a high proportion of rare species. No species occurred in all samples, and the euryoecious Colpoda inflata was most frequent occurring in 73% of samples. Only 14 species have frequences = 40%, and most of them are frequent in soils globally. There is an average of 34 species/sample when the rotten rainforest samples are excluded.
Taken into account total species number and the proportion of new species, seven local ciliate diversity centres can be selected: (i) The richest sample (126 species, nine undescribed) is number (56), i.e., mud and soil from some flat, ephemeral puddles in the Morrocoy National Park on the north coast of Venezuela. (ii, iii) Samples (52) and (61) are from the rainforest in the Henri Pittier National Park with 101 and 91 species, respectively. (iv) The next richest site is number (23), i.e., a Mahadja (highly fertilized savanna soil) with 83 species, including three undescribed ones. (v) Site (54) follows, i.e., mud and soil from a highly saline coastal puddle with 78 species of which 10 were undescribed. (vi) A total of 117 species, 16 undescribed, occurred in 10 Lajas (lithotelmas on granitic outcroppings in the savanna). (vii) In the four Galápagos samples occurred 68 species of which at least 13 were undescribed. Several of the new taxa are flagship species with very likely restricted distribution.
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