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A new species of slater (family Armadillidae) from Lord Howe Island

Stigmops polyvelota Lillemets & Wilson, 2002. Holotype (AM P59952), light micrographs. Paratype (AM P59955), SEM images.

The animal at the left is an Australian Slater, or terrestrial isopod from Lord Howe Island. Slaters are Crustaceans (usually aquatic and marine) that live on land. They are common in many environments in Australia, and may be present at especially high species diversities, such as on Lord Howe Island where this new species" (genus Stigmops Lillemets & Wilson 2002 ) is found.

Taxonomic and Conservation issues. We are concentrating on the southern hemisphere group Armadillidae (Oniscidea Isopoda Crustacea). The Oniscidea has received some attention from overseas (e.g., Dalens, 1992, 1993; Vandel, 1973; Wahrberg, 1922) and from Australian workers (e.g., Green, 1961, 1978; Lewis 1998a,b; Lewis and Green, 1994). The Armadillidae may have numerous undescribed species, and no key to the genera or to NSW Armadillidae species exists. Despite recent studies of Lord Howe isopods (Lewis, 1998b), we have discovered at least 4 additional species in this fauna, suggesting that their local diversity can be extremely high indeed. Because oniscideans brood their young and have a small lifetime ambit, their gene flow (theoretically, at least) is limited, providing a high potential for speciation and small species distributions. Extinction in such species also is more likely than in aerial-dispersing species, making the conservation of the oniscidean isopods an urgent concern.

Birgitta Lillemets: First author of the Lord Howe Armidillidae study


Buz Wilson

Saugatuck Natural History Laboratory

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