A.T. Barrion, J Catindig, S Villareal, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines, Ducheng, Cai and QianhuaYuan, Hainan University, China
Some new spider species from Hainan Island, China
Caption : A. Hyposinga n. sp. [Araneidae]; B. Larinia n.sp.[Araneidae]; C. Cheiracanthium n. sp. [ Clubionidae]; D. Chrysso n. sp. [Theridiidae]; E. Neobrettus heongi n. sp. [ Salticidae]; F. Tetragnatha n. sp. [Tetragnathidae]; G. Clubiona n. sp. [Clubionidae]; H. Mallinella n. sp. [Zodariidae]; I. Arctosa n. sp. [Lycosidae]; J. Evarcha n. sp. [Salticidae]
Discovering and naming a new species
Worldwide new species of animals particularly arthropods are discovered and more than 15,000 of them new to science are catalogued annually. The arthropod biodiversity exploration (ABE) expeditions of sampling and collecting the fauna in rice and habitats surrounding rice cultivations have yielded huge numbers of insects, spiders and relatives. The arthropod biodiversity on Hainan Island is impressive. From our first expedition in August 2010, we collected 6531 hymenopterans and 10426 spiders and another 56628 arthropods from at least 16 orders—Acarina, Blattodea, Chilopoda, Coleoptera, Collembola, Dermaptera, Diplopoda, Diptera, Hemiptera, Lepidoptera, Mantodea, Phasmatodea, Psocoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera and Thysanoptera. The hymenopteran insects were represented by 36 families, 260 genera and 816 species and 123 species (or 15.1%) we believe to be new records. The spiders collected were represented by 19 families, 79 genera and 167 species of which 23 (or 15.6%) were definitely new records. So far only one species has been named, described and published in literature, that of Tetragnatha heongi in 2011 and 146 new arthropod species remain un-described. It had taken us more than a year to sort, identify and count the arthropod collections because of the acute shortage of experts in arthropod taxonomy. Although we have identified many new species, but the process of describing, naming and publishing the new taxa require highly specialized taxonomists working with the arthropod group who are familiar with the literature and works of other taxonomists around the world.
Roadmap in discovering, naming, describing and publishing a new species.
New species maybe abundant in Hainan Island but the discovery of new species is a product of a meticulous investigative process that starts from knowing the: CLASS-FAMILY-GENUS-SPECIES. Once the genus had been identified, all the species under the genus must be investigated. The scientists need to compare the species in question to all known described taxa based on taxonomic characters like that of the genitalia, morphology and size and color. This is done by following the published descriptions about the genus/genera and species under it. Whenever possible, type specimens must be borrowed from museums it was deposited for better comparison. Only when it is certain that the “new” species has completely different characteristics can the scientist propose the new name with justifications. Naming species follows many but specific protocols fixed by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) for animals and the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) for plants. The manuscript for publication containing the new species description is submitted to the chosen journal following its guidelines for publication. The journal editor upon receipt submits the manuscript to the journal pool of section reviewers (specialist of the group) for review. Publication of new species is only formally achieved upon satisfying and fulfilling the recommendation(s)/suggestion(s) of the panel of experts . To recognize that a species is new to science, one must be an expert in a particular taxonomic group. The scientists describing the new species had to be familiar with the particular taxonomic group and know the characteristics of every known species in the world. The naming of plants and animals was formalized in the 18th century by a Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus.
Species new to science will continue to be found as long as scientists look for them and have the expertise and patience to describe them. But such species are not new to the world as they have been here for millions of years and it is important that mankind ensure that both “old” and “new” species remain a part of the environment. They may be contributing to an important ecosystem service important for sustainability. This is more so in the case of species that have specialized functions. In the case of rice there are only a few species that can reach and attack planthopper eggs embedded in the leaf sheath tissues, the mymarid parasitoids and the mirid egg predator. Thus when these species are destroyed or they become extinct, egg mortality will be reduced allowing these species to grow into outbreak proportions. Earlier we found that spider and parasitoid species diversity is highly dependent on farm practices, particularly pesticide use and bund management with flowers.
From a small sample of arthropods collected we found 15% of the species were new to science. Being an island It is very likely that more species are yet to be discovered. This shows the richness of the biodiversity on Hainan Island and possibly new species of mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates will also be discovered. There is great potential in building a biodiversity center in Hainan University that will focus on discovering, describing and naming of the huge biodiversity existing on the island.