The discovery was made after the work that the team of the University of La Serena carried out in the area, in order to complete a national inventory of biodiversity on arthropods.
Two new species of scorpions were discovered by researchers from the Laboratory of Ecological Entomology of the University of La Serena (LEULS), who were conducting an arthropod cadastre in the La Chimba National Reserve, in Antofagasta, work carried out jointly with Dr. Andrés Ojanguren -Affilastro, specialist of the Arachnology Division of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences Bernardino Rivadavia, Argentina (MACN).
This study is part of the La Chimba National Reserve Recovery Plan, developed in that area by the Universidad Católica del Norte (Antofagasta Headquarters) in collaboration with CONAF, through a project of the Innovation Fund for Regional Competitiveness (FIC-R ), who extended the invitation to the professionals of the ULS, with the aim of developing plans for the protection and remediation of unique animal and plant species and in danger of extinction, contributing also to the value of the sector.
Regarding the work done by the researchers in the area, different sampling methodologies were used in order to study the various endemic species of the National Reserve. This was explained by the academic and entomologist of the University of La Serena and part of the LEULS team, Jaime Pizarro-Araya, who explained that “the interesting thing is that we apply different sampling methodologies: interception traps for the group of walkers, traps with white light for the group of nocturnal flyers, ultraviolet light for scorpions and manual sampling with entomological meshes, that is, we apply a whole range of samples in order to register and collect as many species. In this way, preliminary, we have managed to identify two new arthropod species. ”
These new species belong to the Rumikiru and Brachistosternus genera, belonging to the South American family Bothriuridae, and which differ in morphological terms, but which, in this case, are species that use the same ecological niche, something rarely seen in the sampling of field made for nearby or similar species.
Faced with such an important discovery, Pizarro-Araya indicated that the priority at this time must be to protect the natural space of these new species and thus avoid their possible extinction. “These findings call our attention, since they are interesting from the taxonomic and distributional point of view, but we are concerned that their habitat, the La Chimba National Reserve, is not protected, I cannot conserve these species in a terrarium, it is essential that in its natural environment and, therefore, what we should and should do is protect the area to conserve these species. In addition, it is very likely that the La Chimba National Reserve harbors other species that we have not yet managed to register, ”said the ULS researcher, who added that this project is an invitation to continue working in the La Chimba National Reserve, a unique area in terms of diversity and endemism.
Now, the LEULS and MACN work team will focus on the task of validating these species through the description of these taxa in journals specialized in the field.
It should be noted that the LEULS working group has already published the description of approximately 30 species of arthropods, insects and arachnids for Chile, Peru and Argentina. Works partly funded with the valuable collaboration of the Directorate of Research and Development (DIDULS) and the Multidisciplinary Institute of Science and Technology of the University of La Serena.
Written by Tomás Rodríguez, DirCom