Analysis of non-morphometric morphological characters used in the taxonomy of the genus Pseudechiniscus (Tardigrada: Echiniscidae)

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Pseudechiniscus, the second-largest genus of the family Echiniscidae (Tardigrada: Heterotardigrada: Echiniscoidea), is notoriously difficult for taxonomic studies. In this study, I performed a morphological analysis of a new species from Croatia, based on a light microscopic and scanning electron microscopic examination of 45 specimens from the same sample. Furthermore, I have summarized all available data on Pseudechiniscus species, including their original descriptions, and have analysed the following complexes of morphological characters: (1) arrangement and morphology of dorsal cuticular plates, (2) ventral sculpture, (3) morphology of cephalic, trunk and leg sensory organs and (4) claw morphology. The applicability of these characters in the taxonomy and their distribution in the genus are discussed. Some of the characters traditionally used for species delimitation were shown to be unsuitable and others in need of a thorough reinvestigation. The meaning of the old term 'faceted', commonly used but often misapplied, has been clarified, based on the initial definition. Several characters of the claw structure were suggested as potentially useful for species delimitation. The taxonomic status of several old forms and species was discussed.

Translated title of the contributionАнализ не-морфометрических морфологических признаков, используемых в систематике рода Pseudechiniscus (Tardigrada: Echiniscidae)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-775
Number of pages23
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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