25.07.2018 change 25.07.2018

Polish scientists described a new species of shrimp from the largest lake of the Balkans

Source: Aleksandra Jabłońska, Michał Grabowski Source: Aleksandra Jabłońska, Michał Grabowski

Polish scientists described a new species of shrimp living in Lake Skadar - the largest lake of the Balkans. Atyaephyra vladoi is an endemic species found only in the lake`s basin.

"The newly described shrimp species is probably a relic of swampy terrain. The species inhabited the area of today`s Lake Skadar before it was flooded, that is before the lake itself formed" - says Dr. Aleksandra Jabłońska, who described the shrimp together with a team of scientists from the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology of the University of Lodz and the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Limnology of the University of Szczecin.

According to the researcher, more than a dozen species of shrimp live in the inland waters of Europe, classified into two genera: Atyaephyra and Palaemon. Most species of the genus Atyaephyra have only been described in recent years, thanks to the use of integrative taxonomy methods, combining traditional morphological observations and genetic analyses.

Most shrimp species occur in the rivers and stagnant waters of the Balkan Peninsula, which is known for its high biodiversity and high degree of endemism of fauna and flora.

Atyaephyra vladoi is yet another species new to science, described using morphological features and mitochondrial DNA analysis. "This shrimp lives among the submerged vegetation of Lake Skadar and rivers and springs in its basin" - adds Dr. Jabłońska.

This species is a close relative of Atyaephyra thyamisensis found in Greece, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. These species separated more than 5 million years ago.

Lake Skadar is the largest lake of the Balkans, located in Albania and Montenegro. The lake itself is very young. It formed only about 1,200 years ago as a result of flooding of a swampy depression, supplied by a geologically much older system of karst springs, streams and rivers.

"Therefore, the basin of the lake, and especially its source systems, are rich in endemics. One of these endemic species of the Lake Skadar basin is the shrimp we have described" - notes the researcher.

The shrimp owes its name to an outstanding Montenegrin zoologist, a professor at the University of Podgorica and aquatic arachnids taxonomy expert - Dr. Vladimir "Vlado" Pešićov.

According to prof. Michał Grabowski from the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology, University of Lodz, research shows that although the degree of endemism of the Balkan Peninsula is described as high, its biodiversity is not yet sufficiently known.

For over a decade, Prof. Grabowski`s team`s research has been focusing on the spatial structure and evolution of biodiversity in the Balkans, the Mediterranean Region and the Middle East. It resulted in the discovery of a number of new species.

"Our research also allowed to determine that the freshwater fauna of this region is much more diverse than previously thought, and its formation is largely associated with sea level fluctuations and uplift of lands in former geological eras" - emphasises Prof. Grabowski.

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